When the COVID-19 virus began spreading to all parts of the world, none of us were spared from its effects, be it directly or indirectly. With the vaccine rolling out in stages, is this the end of COVID-19, where we can all go back to how life used to be more than a year ago? How has our situation changed, and what can we do better to help each other in this time of uncertainty? To answer these questions, IMU Community Engagement (IMU Cares) invited two esteemed guest speakers to share their insight based on first-hand experience on how to manage risk and empower our community in combatting the virus, in a webinar on 16 February 2021. Many community leaders such as the surrounding Residents’ Associations, school headmistress and teachers, business owners, founder and caretakers of NGOs or homes, as well as representatives from the Kuala Lumpur City Hall were invited as participants.
The session kicked off with Prof Khoo Suan Phaik (Dean for University Community Engagement, IMU) introducing the two speakers, Prof Datuk Dr Lokman Hakim Sulaiman (Pro-Vice Chancellor of Research, IMU) and Dato’ Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar (President, Malaysian Public Health Physicians’ Association – PPPKAM).
It is followed by Prof Datuk Dr Lokman’s presentation on learning how to live with COVID-19. In his presentation, he pointed out that the COVID-19 virus is here to stay as it cannot be eradicated within a couple of years, even if the vaccines have been fully rolled out. He gave a few tips on how to embrace the new normal, and by following these simple practices, we can reduce our risks of contracting the virus, as well as keeping the transmission to a minimal.
He stressed the importance of wearing a mask whenever we go out, because it remains the most effective way to prevent virus contraction, even within a crowded place. He also highlighted that it is important to maintain distance when conversing with people, keeping the space well ventilated, and avoiding staying too long in a confined space as some other ways to reduce these risks.
Dato’ Dr Zainal then proceeded to share about how human behaviour can either help to control the virus spread or to worsen it. To rely on the authorities alone to curb the spread of the virus is not enough; we ought to enable an environment that facilitates the implementation of COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) by involving the community to take part.
Aside from providing medical help, the community can be a volunteer to enforce the SOPs, delivering necessities to those in quarantine, or even providing translations of the SOP guidelines to the diverse communities around us. Doing so empowers the people to take care of their local communities and to also work better with the authorities.
The session ended with a fruitful discussion, with input and questions from members of various community leaders on practical ways to manage risks during the pandemic. Both speakers also address certain myths pertaining to the nature of the virus, thus giving assurance that we can overcome this pandemic together when everyone takes on the social responsibility to adhere to the SOPs. The full webinar is also available on IMU Cares’s Facebook page: https://fb.watch/4eSYqiBJRD/