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COVID-19 IN A GLANCE
The coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic is the defining global health crisis of our time and the greatest challenge we have faced since World War Two. Since its emergence in Asia late last year, the virus has spread to every continent except Antarctica. Cases are rising daily in Africa, the Americas, and Europe. COVID-19 first encountered in November 2019 and has gone on to affect over 425,000 people in over 150 countries around the globe, causing more than 18,000 deaths. The virus can cause pneumonia-like symptoms. Those who have fallen ill are reported to suffer coughs, fever and breathing difficulties. In severe cases, there can be organ failure. As this is viral pneumonia, antibiotics are of no use. The antiviral drugs we have against the flu will not work (WHO, 2019). If people are admitted to the hospital, they may get support for their lungs and other organs, as well as fluids. Recovery will depend on the strength of their immune system. Many of those who have died were vulnerable because of existing underlying health conditions.
CRISIS MANAGEMENT & GOOD GOVERNANCE DURING PANDEMIC
Good governance requires state capability, responsiveness, and accountability. A state with good governance is also characterised by strong functioning institutions, effective communication, and good leadership. A coordinated communication strategy when a crisis breaks is a basic requirement of good governance (Kucera, Simala, & Noreuil, 2020).
During the previous Ebola outbreak, governments in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone failed to communicate effectively with its citizens. In Liberia, this resulted in frustrations and riots in the capital city, Monrovia (Courage, 2014). Proactive communication allows the public to adopt cautious behaviour and minimises confusion. An effective communication strategy with the public by the three governments would have contributed immensely with the management of the Ebola crisis (Ross, 2014). By all accounts, many of these lessons are being learnt by the key role players dealing with the current outbreak of Ebola in central Africa. A robust flow of information allows for improved sense-making and crisis decision-making. Despite this, it is hard to ignore the reality that many local players – governments, health workers, and media remain ill-equipped to manage the crisis (Rudd, 2014).
Credit Photo: NSTP
However, during the COVID-19 pandemic in Malaysia, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has placed several preparedness and response measures at various levels of public and private health facilities. All public and private health facilities involved in the management of COVID-19 cases clearly understand the current definition of a case of PUI (Person Under Investigation) COVID-19 or a suspected case of this pandemic (FMT Reporters, 2020). This is to ensure that medical practitioners are able to identify cases of PUI COVID-19 and to refer these cases to the hospital for examination, confirmation, and further treatment.
In addition, Malaysian health personnel handling cases of PUI COVID-19 at all levels of public and private health facilities practised proper infection prevention and control measures to avoid infection and further transmission of the disease. MOH also put into place several preparedness and response measures in the event of the spread of COVID-19 into Malaysia. The National Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre (CPRC), continuously enhance the disease surveillance and monitoring of the status of COVID-19 events in all over countries affected with this pandemic and coordinates MOH preparedness and response measures to prevent the spread of the disease (Ministry of Health Malaysia, 2020). Health screening at entry points of the country has been strengthened to detect Malaysians and visitors who have visited, worked or studied in countries with COVID-19 infections. The cooperation with the Immigration Department is essential for those positively tested to be referred to the health authorities at the entry points.
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Information and health advice about COVID-19 is being updated to the public on an ongoing basis through the mass media that includes, daily press conference by the Health Minister, the Director General of Health, television and radio interviews, MOH website, CPRC Facebook, CPRC Telegram and by the distribution of information through the relevant ministries and agencies such as the Ministry Foreign Affairs, Immigration Department, Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Education and others to assist the Ministry of Health to prevent the spread of the disease into the country.
Credit Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Diplomatic efforts in bringing back Malaysians who are stranded outside Malaysia through the process of repatriation held by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is also one of the best examples of good governance in managing crisis during this pandemic. The costs of bringing them home were borne by the government as well as from contributions by political parties, private sectors as well as through individual efforts. Wisma Putra has also introduced an initiative called Malaysia’s Diplomatic Equipment Stockpile (MDES), whereby everyone can contribute protective equipment for the use of diplomatic frontliners in the fight against COVID-19.
The coronavirus pandemic is testing leaders in every sector. Challenges could persist for longer than anyone expects. No one, not even the leaders, has the answers right now. But leaders and communities who work and fight together this pandemic now will help support their organisations and communities during this crisis and strengthen and prepare them for whatever comes next.
About the Author
Mohd Zaflie Abd Jawad is a Media & Public Relation Officer at Malaysia’s Department of Broadcasting, Angkasapuri Kuala Lumpur, and a Doctorate Student for the Faculty of Communication & Media Studies at UiTM Shah Alam.
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FMT Reporters. (2020, May 8). Malaysia ranks 4th in global survey on public approval of Covid-19 crisis management. Retrieved from Free Malaysia Today: https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2020/05/08/malaysia-ranks-4th-in-global-survey-on-public-approval-of-covid-19-crisis-management/
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