Time to transition to living with Covid-19 – say DAP leaders as cases exceed 1 million

File photo of DAP Secretary General Lim Guan Eng (centre) during a meet with Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz earlier this month.

KUALA LUMPUR, July 25 – Malaysia will have to make the transition into living with the Covid-19 presence rather than wait to achieve a zero case level, says DAP Secretary General Lim Guan Eng.

Speaking at a virtual press conference organised by the Democratic Action Party (DAP) here today on its proposal – Gearing Malaysia Towards Living with Covid-19, Guan Eng said there was a need to adopt a new approach of transitioning into a new normal that would save lives and livelihood.

The reality is the virus will be here for a while, and the total lockdowns so far have not worked to completely control the virus, and on the other hand the economic devastation it has brought on to the people and country cannot be underestimated, he said.

The country is estimated to have seen RM500 billion in losses since the lockdowns began.

Hence, the way forward would be to move away from containment and total lockdowns that are intended to eliminate the virus or achieve a zero Covid-19 goal, to a new policy of mitigation and targeted lockdowns and the acceptance that people would have to adapt to live with COVID-19.

This would minimise the economic consequences, he said, adding that the government needed to see what was really happening at the ground, with many people continuing to lose their sources of income and reaching high levels of stress and anxiety.

“People who would not have thought of asking for food help, are doing so now. This is clear indication how bad things have come to,” he said during the press conference, which was facilitated by Tony Pua, Member Parliament of Damansara.

Other DAP leaders who briefed the press on the party’s “Position on Living With Covid-19” included MP of Bangi, Dr. Ong Kian Ming and MP for Bandar Kuching, Kelvin Yii.

Malaysia today exceeded the one million mark in total number of cases, reaching 1.03 million in COVID-19 cases in the country. Yesterday, Malaysia notched another record with 15,902 positive COVID-19 cases out of 155,193 test samples, giving a positivity rate of 10.25% continuing a similar trend in the recent weeks, Guan Eng said.

The dismal status reflects the failure and diminishing effectiveness of multiple sweeping lockdown policies, while the healthcare system has been stretched to its limit.

“The DAP takes no pleasure in making these assertions against the PN government as ultimately it is the rakyat who are suffering from the crippling economic lockdowns and worsening pandemic.”

He said the party was ready to play its part of the “Whole of Society, All of Government” campaign to
ensure Malaysians can successfully transition to the ‘new normal’ by ‘Living with COVID-19’.

The nation must recover from the disastrous management of the pandemic that has resulted in record-breaking infection and death rates Malaysians are seeing today, he added.

In its 22-page policy paper proposing the gearing of the country towards living with Covid-19, the recommendations it has made include a comprehensive system of “Find, Test, Trace, Isolate, Support+Vaccination” national strategy to minimise and mitigate the presence and impact of COVID-19 within the community.

It also called on the reopening most, if not all of the social and economic activities, but cautioned against reckless opening and has recommended having safety catches at all levels of reopening the economy including having the right indicators in hand first.

“We have to recognise a situation with 20,000 COVID-19 positive cases with no ICU patients or deaths, is a far better outcome than 5,000 positive cases with 100 in ICU and 20 deaths.
‘Living with COVID-19’ means the right indicators to focus the public’s attention on as well as the policy makers are:
the number and % of serious COVID-19 cases (Categories 3 to 5) and the number of deaths and the number in ICU (and capacity in ICU) as these are the indicators which reflect the strain on the public healthcare system.

Even if we get cases in the thousands but the % of cases which lead to deaths are only a very very small fraction of the overall number of cases, the economy should remain open for business (subject to continued SOPs) and the public should see COVID-19 as just another disease out there

Along with other detailed measures and approaches towards the transition, the paper also called on the provision of grants for businesses and funding of the healthcare systems to be prepared for the future.