Instead of always blaming the authorities for everything, why don’t we just take good care of ourselves first – follow the SOP, stay home and get vaccinated?

Frustrated by the pandemic – by leesan

Things will only start to get better when we all work together to curb the spread of the virus, and more people are fully vaccinated.

THE tourism industry in Malaysia has come tumbling down…at least, this is what I feel.
Not long ago, the cabinet appointed a new deputy tourism minister, but we can’t expect him to deliver a miracle solution to our problem any time soon.

The Covid-19 situation has gone out of control and has taken a heavy toll on the livelihoods of people. But honestly, instead of always blaming the authorities for everything, why don’t we just take good care of ourselves first – follow the SOP, stay home and get vaccinated?

The virus does not care who you are – anyone can get infected. And the only way we can get out of this immense disaster is for everyone to all work together.

Some of the world’s leaders still think that this virus can easily be “killed”, and instead of caring for the people, they focus on their own political interests.

Now that the coronavirus is everywhere, do you still think that you aren’t at risk or believe that it won’t happen to you?(*Purchased photo from shutterstock)

The same goes for some of the people too – instead of following the rules and trying their best to curb the spread of Covid-19, a few make light of the seriousness of the pandemic and simply do as they please.

In India, where the B1617 variant of the virus was discovered, the situation was really bad at some point. But now, our percentage of cases per capita is higher than that in India; we actually sit on the top of the chart now. Do you still believe that you and your family are doing enough to stay safe?

On May 29, the number of new infections in Malaysia was 9,020. A day later, there were 1,114 Covid-19 patients in intensive care units. The country’s medical resources are already stretched to the limit, and as a result, our healthcare workers need to work even harder to make sure every patient is properly cared for. I can understand just how worried they must feel!

These days there are more cases of young people getting infected too. And not just that, there are also more young patients who have died because of the virus. You may have also heard of someone’s family member or friend who got infected after attending a casual get-together with other folks, and then passing away a few days later.

Sometimes we hope that all these stories are just “fake news” but unfortunately, more often than not they are real.

My friend BKL tells me that the situation is actually worse than we can imagine. BKL has been helping a colleague, who is a Covid-19 patient, look for a hospital bed with a ventilator all over the Klang Valley, but is so far unsuccessful. Let’s face it, no matter who or how rich you are, a hospital bed is really hard to come by today – and let’s not even mention a bed in an ICU.

If you are lucky enough, you could get a bed at a private hospital but the charges are really high. Did you know that you are required to pay a deposit of between RM50,000 and RM100,000 for a stay at some private hospitals as a Covid-19 patient?

Needless to say, there are plenty of unforeseen incurred expenses.

Get vaccinated, get protected.

We need to register for, and take, the vaccine in order for things to get back to ‘normal’ in our country. – Azhar Mahfof / The Star

This new lockdown is different from the movement control order phases that we’ve had previously. Our total daily cases and death toll has increased drastically – and is still increasing – so rules have tightened, and everyone is doing their very best to stay home at all times.

Although I agree with the government’s decision to strike a balance between the country’s economy and public health, I do feel there are other things that they can do to help the situation.
As for the tourism industry, it is sinking further and further each day. Since last September, domestic travels have been halted, and there is no end in sight as to when the travel ban will actually get lifted.

Tourism is not an essential industry, and therefore is not on the government’s priority rescue list. This means that our recovery is dependent on how well the government and the rakyat work together to defeat the pandemic.

I’m actually more concerned about the livelihoods of tour guides and professional tour leaders because they have become increasingly vulnerable. You may not realise that unlike most regular wage earners with fixed monthly incomes, they are mostly contract workers who are paid per job assignment. They don’t have fixed incomes or an Employee Provident Fund (EPF) account.

Thanks to the booming global travel industry over the past decade, some tour guides have taken loans from banks to buy houses and cars in hopes of enhancing the quality of life for their families. No one would have expected that all of a sudden they would lose their jobs and incomes, making it hard for them to sustain themselves.

Sure, most of them have been living on a tight budget, or have started doing other jobs. But this new wave of Covid-19 infections is making things even worse for everyone.

I myself am actually among those walking on a tightrope right now. Yet, I still keep thinking of ways we can help these tour guides and leaders who have contributed so much to the tourism industry.

Fortunately those in the industry who have lost their jobs are willing to take up any job available, in order to survive. What they worry about more is that the pandemic could trigger an economic depression that will wipe out any potential job opening. And tourism operators worldwide are facing the same insurmountable challenge.

Anyway, bear in mind that we must take all the necessary precautions to stop this virus from getting to us and our families. We must adequately equip ourselves so that when the industry recovers one day, we can fight along together once again!

The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own. Leesan, the founder of Apple Vacations, has travelled to 132 countries, six continents and enjoys sharing his travel stories and insights. He has also authored two books.

Published in STAR 2, 5 June 2021