Doctors And Netizens Call On Government To #LockdownMalaysia

"Let us not let pride or politics get in the way of saving lives," they said.

Cover image via Aizuddin Saad/New Straits Times & Twitter @__peachmoon

Six medical professionals have called on the government to consider implementing a lockdown on the country in view of the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases yesterday, 15 March

In an open letter on Facebook addressed to Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, the doctors stated that they have been following the development of the COVID-19 pandemic closely and can "see the alarming rate it is increasing, from 41 new cases [Saturday], 14 March, to 190 [yesterday], 15 March."

The doctor penning the letter, Dr Teoh Boon Wei, wrote that as a "member of the medical community and more importantly a concerned citizen", they are worried that the advice for the public to practise social distancing was not a rigorous enough a move to prevent the spread of infection.

"I am sure you are assisted by eminent members of the medical fraternity including infectious disease physicians, intensivists, virologists, and epidemiologists," he wrote.

"But I wonder if the authorities have considered a lockdown? The advice for social distancing has obviously fallen on deaf ears as I see people going about their daily lives as if there is no threat at all."

A netizen has commented that supermarkets are still crowded with people.

Image via Twitter @__peachmoon

The group of doctors acknowledge the "implication of such measures", but they also "do not want to be too late like other countries who are fighting a losing battle now"

"Every day matters. If a lockdown is imposed, the many carriers in the community now will surface when they develop symptoms while at the same time, they do not infect others," Teoh explained.

"I understand the impact on social order and the economy, but if it blows out, we will be dealing with a worse outcome."

He also urged the government to consult countries that were badly-hit by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 such as Singapore and Hong Kong for advice on tackling the virus as they are "doing well now in this pandemic".

"Let us not let pride or politics get in the way of saving lives."

The joint statement was signed by Dr Teoh Boon Wei, Dr Asha Prerna, Dr Devindran Manoharan, Dr Sivaneswaran Annandan, Dr Kumar Neeraj, and Dr Komella Prakasam.

Members of the public seen wearing face mask outdoors amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Image via Aizuddin Saad/New Straits Times

Malaysian netizens are also calling on the government to lock down the country

After the large number of new cases were reported, the hashtag #LockdownMalaysia has been trending on Twitter since yesterday evening.

Many netizens were calling attention to the inaction that the public and government were taking amidst the coronavirus outbreak.

One Twitter user wrote that Italy, America, Denmark, China, and Iran have been locked down, but Malaysians have only been encouraged to wash their hands and been enticed to buy cheap flights to Korea and Japan.

"I check everyday, the COVID-19 cases are increasing! 428 cases are not a small amount," said a worried netizen.

While this user defended the government, writing, "You all are talking about #LockdownMalaysia but still have gatherings and go to crowded places. Stop blaming the Ministry of Health (MOH). Even if they asked you to sit at home, we all know you guys will not. MOH is really doing a good job at the moment."

As the number of cases increase worldwide, more countries are imposing nationwide lockdowns to contain the spread

Spain joins Italy, El Salvador, New Zealand, Poland, Ireland, and Denmark as countries that have recently implemented the largest and most restrictive of mass quarantines, reported Business Insider.

These countries are emulating China's aggressive measure taken when the novel coronavirus was first discovered in the country, locking down at least 16 cities by the end of January in the largest quarantine in human history.

According to Wired, the ambitious move has paid off and been commended by the World Health Organisation as China's new cases has sharply declined in the recent month, reporting only 26 new cases on Thursday, 12 March, compared to the previously staggering 3,000 cases in a day in February.

Meanwhile, the public has been urged by the government to remain calm and stop panic-buying due to the COVID-19 outbreak:

If you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, here is what you can do:

In the meantime, continue to practise good hygiene:

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