The Covid-19 outbreak has been around for more than seven months with the first case detected in Wuhan, China in December 2019 before it spread all across the globe. Countries went into lockdowns for months on end and people were told to adhere to strict rules like washing hands and wearing a mask.
While these practices have become a good habit for many, there are some who may feel like they’ve had enough of all these restrictions and just want things to go back to normal. This affects the way they behave in public and the precautions they take to maintain social distance from others.
When this happens, people are said to have ‘caution fatigue’ – a term used to describe those who “show low motivation or energy to comply with safety guidelines” according to Jacqueline Golla, a professor from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
“It’s reflected when we become impatient with warnings, or we don’t believe the warnings to be real or relevant, or we de-emphasize the actual risk,” she added.
“And in doing that, we then bend rules or stop safety behaviors like washing hands, wearing masks and social distancing.”
According to a report by CNN, caution fatigue happens not just in the context of Covid-19 but in every day life as well, like when you ignore an alarm because you’ve heard it before. This mental state happens for a few reasons, including chronic stress, decreased sensitivity to warnings and the inability to process new information with others.
What does this mean for Malaysians?
With new clusters being detected every day, we need to start thinking, – do Malaysians have ‘caution fatigue’?
Head into any mall and you will see the crowds of people everywhere with minimal social distancing at restaurants and dozens of people without masks on. This needs to be addressed as “it could lead to complacency, which negates all the efforts that the country has put in place to curb the contagion,” says Alliance for Safe Community chairman, Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.
In a report by The Star, Lee urged Malaysians to continue to be vigilant.
“While we are proud that many people are wearing face masks in public places, there are still many who are not doing so in crowded places where there is the possibility of the spread of the disease,” he said in a statement.
He added that some people would pull their face masks down to their chin, which should not be the case as your neck is exposed to the air. Instead, our health director-general has advised Malaysians to take their masks off completely.
“Everyone has the responsibility to ensure that there is no Covid-19 resurgence as has happened in some countries, ” Lee said, adding that self-discipline, self-control and self-enforcement needs to be practised.
We are all ‘frontliners’
And now that most of the sectors in the country have been reopened, it is up to us, ordinary folk, to keep the virus at bay. We are the ‘frontliners’, and we are the ones responsible for the future of this nation.
“Doctors, nurses and other medical workers were the original frontliners who have done a superb job in flattening the curve, ” Lee said.
“While they continue to bear the main responsibility of keeping us safe, it is now up to the rest of us to do the the work as the new frontliners.”
“We cannot rule out the risk or possibility of a Covid-19 resurgence if we let our guard down and are complacent. We have done well since the outbreak and our efforts in flattening the curve have been recognised.”
“We are on the road to recovery, so we must do everything possible to ensure our efforts will not be in vain.”
The outbreak in Malaysia is far from over and we must not let our guard down! It is up to us to keep the rate of infection as low as possible, but we can only do it if we all work together. Do we really want another lockdown?
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