Lockdown Measures are Ineffective Against Covid-19 Spread, Says Experts

The number of daily positive cases in Malaysia have obviously been rising rapidly and that’s not even the most worrying part as it is that it is doubling almost every five days on an average since early September.

Things took a turn for the worst in September 7th onwards as positive cases stated doubling within four to 11 days. According to a study by CodeBlue, this rate sped up at the concurrence of the Sabah state election, with daily infection doubled almost every three days. 

A conditional movement control order (CMCO) has since been implemented in a number of significant areas, but experts are saying that such moves or a lockdown may just function as a temporary measure to reduce the cases and not completely annihilate transmission of the virus.

A mindful lockdown

Dzulkefly Ahmad

According to Dzulkefly Ahmad, who is also head of Selangor’s Covid-19 task force (STFC) and a former health minister, movement restriction measures are important to control the coronavirus but must be implemented mindfully and must be adhered to fully by the public.

“l need to stress that lockdowns do not end the pandemic. We do not exit a pandemic with lockdowns.” he said in an interview with CodeBlue.

“Theoretically, lockdowns are a last resort and must be resorted to, tactfully and judiciously, with unambiguous guidelines and standard operating procedures (SOP),” 

Covid-19 vaccine

Although a lockdown couldn’t do what a vaccine could, that may be the only option we have for now.

According to Joseph T Wu from the University of Hong Kong, lockdowns are merely a temporary fix without a vaccine.

“While these control measures appear to have reduced the number of infections to very low levels, without herd immunity against Covid-19, cases could easily resurge as businesses, factory operations, and schools gradually resume and increase social mixing, particularly given the increasing risk of imported cases from overseas as Covid-19 continues to spread globally,” he told The Guardian.

Compliance with SOPs

Dr Mustapha Kamal from the Covid-19 response unit in Sungai Buloh Hospital, Malaysia’s main Covid-19 hospital located in Selangor says that even with all the SOP guidelines set in place, it will still all lead to nothing if Malaysians don’t comply with it. 

“It has been said and proven during the second wave where we have seen the curve flattening, as per number of cases decreases. We are hoping with the MCO, the number of cases decreases again. Though, it must be remembered that MCO in the long run might jeopardise our country,” Dr Mustapha told CodeBlue.

Damages both mentally and economically

If not announced with the details of it fully enclosed to the public, a lockdown may cause more harm than good. Not only will there be confusion but there will also be the fear factor in place on the consequences that may follow if one is not clear about it. 

Low-income and vulnerable groups may find it much more difficult to survive during lockdowns as situations may just go from bad to worse. Those groups who are likely to even recover from the first MCO will be facing the difficulties and hardships head on, this is bound to take a toll on those groups not only financially but also mentally as well.

“But we must remember that it has a concomitant damaging effect on both lives — mental health, foregone preventive care, missed educational opportunities and livelihoods, especially of the lower income groups and small businesses in the informal sector, because they are ‘crude or blunt’ instruments,” Dzulkefly stated.

“Needless to say that businesses are under severe strain. A simple way to help businesses is to give predictable and clear, evidence-based guidance, so that they can anticipate what measures will be used and in what situation.”

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