A marriage made in hell

Avec le soutien de

“Corona is like your wife,” said Malaysian Minister Mahfud MD. “Initially, you try to control it, then you realise you can’t so you learn to live with it.” Apart from the sexist and misogynistic innuendoes he caught heavy flak for, there is some truth in what he said: there is no running away from the fact that Covid-19 is going to be a companion we have to adjust to and learn to live with for many years to come. It is a marriage made in hell but a marriage nonetheless.

And just like a spouse we have been living with for nearly a year now, we have learnt its habits, likes and dislikes, the things it thrives on and the things it abhors. With this information in mind, it is difficult to understand the government’s hardline approach and rigidity when it comes to the quarantine protocol that our compatriots are being subjected to for two full weeks as a welcome gift when they land in their own country.

Admittedly, the virus is highly contagious and in some cases deadly. No one is disputing that or underplaying its devastating effects. It is however not the nuclear weapon it is made out to be by the health authorities. There is therefore little need to subject our citizens and residents to the drastic measures spelt out by the Health Ministry and which are causing a lot of trauma and discouraging many people from coming back home.

First, two weeks in isolation for people who have tested negative twice within a few days is really pushing precautions far too far. As if that was not enough, during those two weeks, quarantiners are not allowed to step out of their room. Most hotels have large, roomy gardens and people interned there could walk around within specific parameters without the slightest risk to others. It’s not as if the coronavirus was a missile that could hit everyone in the vicinity the moment it is released. Reason has to prevail.

Christmas is around the corner and I have not seen any excited countdown. Admittedly, times are glum, money is scarce, bonuses are uncertain and there is little to rejoice about if you are not a member of the select club. Still, Christmas brings with it joy through family reunifications. The health authorities should be pro-active in thinking of ways to help families re-unite while minimising the risk of another virus outbreak. There really is no shortage of very reasonable ways of doing that.

Thousands of university students across the world are stuck in their halls of residence. Some are experiencing terrible psychological problems. With the drastic restrictions and measures put in place by the Health Ministry, added to the prohibitive cost of a two-week forced stay in selected hotels, it is unlikely that they will be able to return home to their families for Christmas.

Covid-19 is here to stay. It has no intention of leaving our beautiful company. It will be one of us for a long time. Divorce is going to be a very lengthy process. If we don’t learn to manage it, the only thing we will be able to do is add economic and psychological hardship to our lives which have already been made miserable through this unhappy marriage. Could someone please tell those in charge?

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