WITH effect from May 1, millions of Malaysians will be able to lead a life with minimum restrictions and by May 15, thousands of nightclubs throughout the country will open their doors for business.

For more than two years, Covid-19 had seriously disrupted our lives causing millions to dip into their retirement funds to make ends meet, while thousands of local businesses had to take drastic measures to stay afloat.

The recent announcement of relaxing the restrictions made by Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin came as a great exhilaration and relief to the people, especially the business community.

The entire nation had suffered enough both emotionally and financially since the beginning of 2020, thus this relaxation rule came as an ecstatic moment similar to a bird being released from the cage after prolonged captivity.

While enjoying my glass of daily iced coffee at my favourite kopitiam on May 4, I felt equally elated like others but, as usual, I continued to take the necessary precautions to keep myself safe as a responsible retiree.

Though a handful of the elated customers might have let their guard down, I hope they will quickly learn from the worsening Covid-19 situation in Taiwan.

On May 5, this island reported more than 30,000 infections and the number continues to climb.

After watching a recent documentary titled Survivor Stories on TV featuring the sufferings of some local Covid-19 patients who had undergone intensive care unit (ICU) treatment, I felt so fortunate that I had taken the pandemic seriously from the very beginning.

Therefore, I had managed to keep the virus at bay even after I had taken my booster shot six months ago.

As an elderly citizen, I could potentially be an ICU patient if I ever contracted this lethal virus.

Another similar documentary that featured the dire predicament encountered by the various medical staff in the course of their duty had truly impressed me as extraordinary legends.

Without their contributions and sacrifices, more patients wouldn’t have been able to survive the ordeal, especially those who needed ICU treatment but the ward hadn’t been able to admit them as it was continuously fully occupied.

Words wouldn’t be able to describe how dire the situation was in the hospital.

People, too, had suffered tremendously since the beginning of 2020. Many had lost their jobs along the way causing them to exhaust their lifesavings just so they could put food on the table, while a number of them had to face bankruptcy proceedings as they hadn’t been able to service their loans despite the repeated repayment assistance being offered.

The pandemic-induced calamity had caused depression, divorce and suicide cases to rise alarmingly over the past two years.

All of us must realise that the pandemic battle hasn’t been won yet.

We are just going through a reprieve now and how successfully we can bring this pandemic under control depends very much on our collective efforts in observing the standard operating procedures, i.e, wearing face mask, observing social distancing and washing our hands whenever necessary.

Hopefully, there is a medical breakthrough in finding an effective therapy or a universal vaccine designed to recognise a diversity of strains for Covid-19 soon.

Patrick Teh