Statistics for new cases of Covid-19 will have major influence on return to normal conditions, say experts

PETALING JAYA: It could eventually come down to just the numbers.

How soon Malaysians can freely engage in their normal routines or activities again will hinge on the number of new Covid-19 cases in the coming weeks and months.

Psychologists said if the country is able to maintain a minimal number of cases for a longer period of time, it would help allay public fears about the risks of conducting their normal activities.

Additionally, they claimed that the messages being delivered to the public pertaining to the pandemic would also play a role in building confidence.

Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris counsellor Dr Fauziah Mohd Sa’ad said it is human nature to prioritise one’s own safety over personal gratification.

“In this context, if the number of cases continues to decline and remain low, it will help elevate public confidence and encourage people to do what they used to do before the pandemic.

“But if (the number of new) cases remain high, and if there is an increase, it is normal for people to become more cautious, as they will be fearful of contracting the virus,” she told theSun yesterday.

Fauziah was commenting on Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economic Affairs) Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed’s statement on Sunday that the pandemic has created a psychological fear among the people.

Mustapa said this could be a stumbling block to the country’s economic recovery as it would discourage people from resuming normal activities that could stimulate the economy.

Fauziah said the media also plays an important role to restore public confidence, by publishing news and articles that could raise awareness on personal hygiene and on government standard operating procedures (SOP).

“The public needs to be kept (informed) that if they comply with the SOP and instructions, then the potential of them contracting Covid-19 is much smaller,” she said.

HELP University Faculty of Behavioural Sciences dean Dr Gerard Louis said it was not uncommon for certain people to continue having fears and anxiety about returning to their normal routines.

He said for these people, they find that leaving their house represents a threat compared to them staying at home, hence the more cautious approach.

However, Louis said this could be changed if they are constantly informed of positive development in the country, including news on the low number of cases.

“If they realise that it is actually quite safe outside and that people are going back to some sense of routine when they read the news or when they receive any information from their friends and families, then they become more desensitised.

“But how long it will take someone to rebuild his confidence differs from one person to another,” he added.