#Opinion

Living with COVID-19 … so what’s the new normal?

Shopping, dining out, travelling ... remaining vigilant is key to living with COVID-19. Remember, complacency kills!

Two months ago, Amal’s Instagram stories were flaring up with screenshots of the daily cases hitting 20k. Now they’re clips of friends going on a date, family gatherings and social hangouts.  The virus is still around and yet our concern seems to have shifted from ‘gelabah habis’ to ‘lek lek ah’. If we’re going to be living with COVID-19 takleh rilek gitu2 jer tau!

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Complacency is just as dangerous as the virus itself, and that’s a key part as to whether we can safely start living with COVID-19. And honestly? Amal pun rasa takut nak keluar rumah unless ada sebab. And now we have Omicron, a new coronavirus variant of concern declared by WHO which has a large number of mutations.

So what’s the new normal and does this mean we all tak payah nak adhere to the SOPs anymore? So Amal tanya myself – Are there any guidelines to living with COVID-19? Especially with new variants emerging.

A quick reality-check

Since WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic, nampaknya the Malaysian public have generally accepted the SOPs to flatten the curve.

Despite always ‘tertidur’ in restaurants for 5 days because we lupa nak check out in MySejahtera, most of us have been using the app fairly OK. And jarang to catch someone without a mask in public anymore. With giant cross outs placed on seats and tables, geng Malaysia seem to be aware of our responsibility to maintain physical distancing of 1 meter.

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But you know, yang Amal takut to see adanya orang yang slowly letting their guard down. And that’s a big no no lah IMHO. Complacency kills.

Strengthening our defense and building higher walls can help to keep us on our toes. Imagine nailing kuih tepung pelita to a tree! All of our best efforts selama ni would go to waste if we begin to settle for less.

Just because we BOLEH go to Genting with our besties, does it mean we SHOULD? Kan our daily reported COVID-19 cases are still 4 figures! I rasa cancel dulu plan korang tu, Five Guys isn’t going anywhere babes.

And one more thing yang we tend to overlook is wearing our masks correctly. While reusable masks are cute and all, we still need to wear a surgical mask inside to filter out the particles. Amal nak share with korang WHO’S guidance to wearing a mask properly. It’s betul2 penting we learn to consistently adopt safety precautions if we’re going to be living with COVID-19. Better to be safe than sorry, kan!

Living with COVID-19 ala Amal

Although it’s uncommon, breakthrough infection is a real thing. According to WHO, we’re seeing more cases of breakthrough infections because some are forgetting the SOPs that protect us from the virus. While vaksin tu memang penting, we still need to follow the 3Ws and avoid the 3Cs. And never let our guard down.

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Bila Amal nak lepak dengan besties, I think safety first. Now that we are allowed to dine in, I avoid crowded restaurants with poor ventilation. Instead, Amal cuba try cari outdoor cafes or restaurants with fewer customers and wider spaced areas. Yang penting boleh catch up with the girlies!

While I’m out and about, I always have my trusty personal hand-sanitizer so I regularly sanitize my hands. Because dirty hands are a breeding ground for germs. I tak nak lah jadi the one with the ‘cheese touch’ in my group of friends. Ewww. Hand hygiene is the most important measure to avoid the transmission of harmful germs and prevent health care-associated infections. Check out the WHO’s guide to maintaining the perfect hand hygiene.

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So how about travelling? You know, whether Amal shopping for groceries at Uncle Muthu’s mart with Mak Abah or when I plan to go island hopping with the girlies in Langkawi, I will always have my mask on! I always ingat: people with COVID-19 who never develop symptoms (asymptomatic) and those who are not yet showing symptoms (pre-symptomatic) can still spread the virus. So if I am outside my safe bubble – my home and my besties – I always have my mask on.  Amal hopes you will too!

READ: Bestie to bestie: Tips balik kampus!

Next mission: Fasa Endemik

Good news gais: 95.2% of the adult population have been fully vaccinated! Now that we’ve hit the vaccination target (tepuk tangan!), where do we go from here? Buckle up, the next mission is to enter the endemic phase.

“Endemic” tu comes from the Greek word endēmos, which means “in population”. Yang Amal baca, it means the virus will continue to circulate within our community, BUT with less transmission and less COVID-19 related hospitalisations and deaths. This is because enough people would have gained immune protection from being vaccinated. In simple terms, we will proceed with our lives along with COVID-19.

So Malaysia dah masuk fasa endemik ke? Well, not quite yet according to KKM …

Malaysian Deputy Health Minister Datuk Aaron Ago Dagang clarified that Malaysia needs to have less than 1,200 cases and fewer than 10 deaths a day for seven consecutive days to be able to declare it’s in an endemic phase.

Nampaknya we’re not there …. yet. We have been seeing about average-average around 5,000 cases daily in November. Remaining hopeful is the way to go, BUT remaining vigilant is the key to living with COVID-19. With restrictions slowly being lifted and more economic sectors reopening, clusters can easily be triggered if we become complacent.

“But the cases are decreasing and most of us are fully vaccinated now, dah boleh rilek dah ni.”

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Taylor Swift taught us better, that’s a RED flag, babes. 🚩🚩🚩 Run.

As of 14 November, 24,809,677 people (76%) of Malaysia’s population have completed their COVID-19 vaccinations according to Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia. While this is great news, kita still kena hati-hati okey! COVID-19 is still among us and can infect us anywhere, anytime if we don’t follow the right safety measures.

Let’s get to a New Normal

Returning to normalcy is a must, we cannot afford another lockdown, babes. However, we can easily slip back to 5-figure numbers if we fail to maintain safety practices. To truly win the war against COVID-19, we need to remain vigilant and responsible. Be mindful of our surroundings and do our part to overcome COVID-19 TOGETHER.

That means masking up properly (double mask ah!), washing our hands, maintaining physical distance and staying at home whenever possible. And of course, getting vaccinated if you guys haven’t already!

These are just some of what I do to live as normally as I can to live with COVID-19. If you find this useful, tolonglah share this around, get the whole gang to be responsible and safe!

Let’s do it for our Mak Abah, our besties, our country!

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Amal

Champion for vaccination! Two-wheels, a big heart and not enough books.
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