It's only minutes to midnight, and once that clock chimes, 32 million Malaysians, including yours truly, will be under "lockdown ". I've been busy with the family, now preparing for Covid-19 (Coronavirus ). I use asterisks, as it's not technically a "lockdown ", but officially referred to as "movement control ".
This was just announced yesterday to help control the outbreak of Covid-19, given that Malaysia now has the highest case count in South East Asia. It's worrying that we now have nearly 700 confirmed cases, and we've also had our first two deaths today, announced just hours ago - a Muslim priest, and a Christian pastor.
Credits to: GIPHY
Though, while the government aims to curtail movement, it seems that Malaysians are taking this chance to start moving about, at least before they can't. Malaysia's yearly schooling session has four scheduled holidays in a year - one week in March, two weeks in July, another week in August, and the final year-end break in November until after New Year's - which is rather generous...
As of two days ago, the first term school holidays have started, and people were anxious whether they should, or shouldn’t travel. It seems that the government's official announcement has people in a bind, now in a hurry to get back to their hometowns, or just somewhere away from the city.
Credits to: Bing Covid-19 Tracker
I'm not entirely sure if travelling is a good idea, and whether it'll actually risk spreading the virus further onto the countryside. It's not just the countryside either, but also along customs. To the north, we have a border with Thailand, and we share a bridge with Singapore to the south. Between us three nations, hundreds and thousands of people travel in and out, to commute to work.
Soon, they might not be able to clock in again until April, and they're taking this chance to travel, and stay in whichever country that they're working in. Also, I've just had to experience my first round of panic buying yesterday, though it wasn’t us who's doing all the buying.
Credits to: The Star Online
Luckily, good ol' mom asked me out to help her with groceries days beforehand, so we didn't need to make any last-minute shopping trips. Still, we've missed out on a few items, and we probably didn't have enough to last until it's all over. Having went to local mini-marts, we saw packs of people waiting in line at the counter, and we just had to shove our way through.
Given that one of the better ways of mitigating Covid-19 is reducing human contact, this wasn't an ideal situation. It's events like these that highlight some of the worse aspects of humanity, and this "herd mentality " that my dad talks about. Whenever someone starts panic buying and picking stuff off the shelves like a maniac, other follow along.
Some people do only purchase what they need, but more people don't. Shelves have been emptied out, as people are grabbing stuff that they either don't need, or just too much of it. As we were walking through the isles, baskets and trolleys were filled to the brim with mountains of goods, while we couldn't even get the stuff that we needed.
Credits to: MalaysiaKini
Rice, noodles, bread, sugar… There were none left. When people start biting more than they could chew, there's less of a bite for everyone else, even for those who really need that bite. Consequently, it looks my mom and I will have to do a couple more grocery trips during the movement control.
This loops back to why it's called "movement control ", and not a full "lockdown ", since it's not as severe as some other countries, for the time being anyways. Sure, businesses, work places, and schools are closed, but markets and grocery shops remain open. Some restaurants, while not allowing dine-ins, still allow for takeaways and deliveries.
Credits to: GIPHY
For now, we don't need permits to leave home, nor are there any severe curfews. Most of the quarantines are voluntary, and this makes me wonder - why are people panic buying stuff? Since shops are still open, and they'll continue to be stocked, why are people grabbing more than they need, all in one day?
In any case, we'll officially be under lockdown soon, and I suppose I'll have more to say tomorrow, with Day 1 starting. It'll last until the 31st of March, so there's plenty to time to think about it, and in the meantime, I'll at least have you to keep me company :-)