As the world goes through this Covid-19 pandemic outbreak, we can’t help but see the stark difference in how different countries have handled the situation. Many cities have been put on lockdown with strict instructions not to leave the house or meet people while other places have been a bit less proactive in controlling the situation.
And if you’re wondering which side Malaysia stands on, this man from America will tell you how Malaysia has handled the situation differently from the United States.
In a Twitter thread, Jason Hassenstab recounted his experience during his visit to Malaysia and described it as an “incredible, but poorly timed trip”.
After returning home to the States on 23rd March, Jason says he noticed some stark contrasts between Malaysia and the US. He had visited four cities including Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, Lahad Datu and Sandakan and says that he noticed how enforcement was evident everywhere compared to the US.
“I don’t consider Malaysia to be a 1st world country and given the levels of poverty we saw I think that’s right,” he said.
“However, Malaysia’s Covid-19 enforcement was evident everywhere, even in the remote rainforest where we were staying.”
“Mobile carriers sent a message about social distancing every day. The carrier ID at the top of my phone that normally says Sprint said “Stay Home” instead.”
Jason then recalls that at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), security guards were enforcing distancing while banners with written and visual guidance were placed everywhere by the Ministry of Health. The seats in the airport were also taped off so that there was an empty seat between each open one, he says.
He also noticed that hand sanitisers were provided in abundance, especially at the airport.
“All airport employees were wearing masks, hand sanitiser was at virtually every counter, cash register, and at stations posted everywhere,” he said.
“Their government has a totally consistent message: Stay home, keep your distance, clean your hands. AND THE ENTIRE COUNTRY IS DOING IT.”
Jason then notes the contrast between Malaysia and the world’s busiest airport in Atlanta and says that only about 5% of customs and border control personnel had masks or gloves on at the Atlanta airport.
Hand sanitiser was scarce except in some bathrooms, shops and stores were open for business as usual, and people were cramming together with no distance enforcement.
“People were staring at us and shaking their heads because we wore masks. And before you tell me that masks aren’t that effective, we were doing it to protect others in case we were infectious and to prevent us from touching our faces too often,” he said.
He then recalls a passenger he had encountered on a plane from Tokyo back to America.
“We flew from Tokyo, and a passenger three seats away from me was actively symptomatic with high fever, vomiting, and body aches and only put on a mask after calling for medical assistance halfway through the flight,” he said.
“The paramedics came with CDC personnel at the gate and attended to her. But the rest of the passengers went through customs like nothing had happened.”
“Margaret and my boys and I were fever screened because we reported coming from Malaysia and Singapore, but that was it.”
Jason noticed that at the Atlanta airport, 99% of people coming from international flights like Tokyo, the UK and other European countries were allowed to pass through with no further screening or protection measures. All of them even had to touch the fingerprint scanners.
He then ends his thread with a reminder that this Covid-19 outbreak is not to be taken lightly and says that the US needs to “model their nationwide response after other countries like Malaysia.”
“I personally know five people who are infected, three of them are physicians,” he said.
“This is not a joke or a hoax, people are and will die on a MASSIVE scale unless extreme measures are taken. It is the best argument for a strong public health system and for strong federal response.”
“We need a clear and consistent message to truly #flattenthecurve, and it speaks volumes about our leadership that we need to model our nationwide response after other countries like Malaysia. I hope everyone remembers this come November.”
It’s nice to hear people from other countries praising Malaysia’s efforts in curbing the Covid-19 outbreak in the country, but it is still not over for us. The better we comply to the authorities’ directives during this Movement Control Order, the sooner we will get through this.