As businesses, public areas in Labuan reopen, medical expert cautions public against letting guard down against Covid-19
Dr Ismuni said it is predicted that the Covid-19 pandemic may take a year, or even more, to ease off, thus delaying the return to normality. — Bernama pic

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LABUAN, Feb 28 — As more businesses and public areas are reopening and returning to normality and the Covid-19 vaccination has just begun, a public health physician has sounded a note of caution.

Dr Ismuni Bohari, director of the Labuan Health Department, said everyone must continue to comply with the standard operating procedures (SOPs) in force to keep infection at the lowest level as possible.

The wearing of face masks in public, observing physical distancing and sanitising or washing hands frequently must continue to be practised in the new normal, he told Bernama.

“As we have observed, there are members of the public who still do not practise physical distancing. We still see people in groups and some don’t even wear the face mask. Worse still, some choose to ignore scanning the MySejahtera QR code when entering business premises or eateries.

“We understand that it is not an easy task to practise physical distancing in crowded places such as supermarkets, eateries and wet markets. but we have to make the effort to do so,” he said.

Dr Ismuni said that until herd immunity is reached, with at least 80 per cent of the population vaccinated against Covid-19, the risk of infection will remain, all the more now that more businesses and even schools are reopening.

“As the community starts to reopen, we will likely see future outbreaks and clusters of Covid-19 and this could cause the number of cases to rise again.

“That’s because the virus is contagious; each person who catches it infects, on average, about two other people, and some infect many more. Many infected people do not have symptoms and can unknowingly infect others.

Dr Ismuni said it is predicted that the Covid-19 pandemic may take a year, or even more, to ease off, thus delaying the return to normality.

During this period, he said, companies should take the opportunity to lay the groundwork for remote work and incorporate it in their recovery plan.

“I’m sure employees across industries are asking if in-office requirements can be relaxed post-pandemic since working remotely is clearly working.”

“While actual productivity output has yet to be determined, anecdotal evidence shows that we now see quicker responses to emails and generally increased working hours from employees,” he said.

Dr Ismuni also said that the Federal Territory of Labuan, Malaysia’s international business and financial centre, is likely to be declared a Covid-19 green zone if there is no increase in cases over the next few days.

The four Covid-19 clusters of Hujung Pasir, Jalan Mohammad Salleh, Jalan Kina Benua and Taman Mahkota Impian are set to be declared “ended” as the number of cases has remained static over the last two weeks.

Results are also awaited in the case of the less than 40 samples being analysed at the Institute for Medical Research in Kuala Lumpur.

Labuan, now a Covid-19 yellow zone, had recorded 23 cases in the last 14 days, which is below the 43 cases that would have seen the declaration of a red zone. The cumulative number of cases as of February 26 is 2,251. — Bernama