As 2021 comes to a close, instead of getting ready for the holiday season, many in Malaysia have one particular worry in mind: Will Omicron ruin Christmas? This past year, Covid-19 has upended travel plans and get-togethers for far too long, added to fears and reminded us of how, after so many health crises, we are still failing to protect the vulnerable.
Following the recent news of the second case of the Covid-19 variant Omicron having been detected in Malaysia, with a further18 more suspected cases pending confirmation, there could be talks of another lockdown once more. Up to date, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has already stated that a total of 43 countries have reported Omicron variants. Of these countries, travelers from eight countries have been temporarily barred starting Nov 27 while there are five countries where Omicron has already been spreading in the community.
The data from South Africa has provided some important indications of the variant’s spread. However, they don’t answer all questions on this new threat. Cases have increased rapidly and now show a 7 day rolling average of nearly 7000 cases in that community.
The variants that came from the original Covid-19 virus, namely alpha and delta variants turned out to be more deadly. Will it be the same for Omicron? Right now, it is too early to suggest anything as it will take more data and time. What we do know is that this virus is more contagious and could bypass individuals who are already vaccinated.
So what does it mean for Christmas?
It is highly unlikely that we would undergo another lockdown. Educational institutions, businesses, retail outlets are reopening once more. The Malaysian government has already tightened the SOPs for travelers entering the country. It is also worth noting that we are offered a third booster shot to boost our immunity to prevent any further outbreaks.
Will it be enough?
The WHO experts stressed the importance of vaccination, highlighting that even if vaccines prove less effective against Omicron, as some data indicates, they are still expected to provide significant protection against severe disease. Despite vaccinations and stringent SOPs, cases are still high throughout the region.
One idea which has been floated recently is through daily testing and tracking. We all know that mass testing works. We could track down cases with symptoms; identify their household cluster and trace people they’ve contacted; quarantine them until they are no longer infectious. However, it is not enforced and taken advantage of.
Picture this, what if employees in restaurants are tested daily prior to work and that information on their status can be uploaded, monitored to safeguard the health and safety of the premise in question. This solution not only safeguards the well-being of business owners, employees but also puts the minds of patrons at ease.
Vpass could be that life-saving solution in not only saving the holiday season but also providing a sense of optimism for the year 2022. This solution could work, if and only if businesses make a concerted effort to implement these solutions.
What is Vpass?
Vpass is a comprehensive AI-powered test and track application. When paired with the V200 Covid-19 Saliva Antigen Rapid Test Kit, it can further safeguard anyone in the environment. Tracking and tracing will be easier.
Whether on desktop or mobile app, the tamper-proof technology confirms user Covid-19 status – either positive or negative – and assigns a health pass that helps enterprises and businesses effectively track employee health codes, and plan and manage work schedules/ assignments accordingly.
As such, we will be creating a Vpass safe bubble everywhere. The more bubble we have in the region, the safer and confident we are in getting back the lives that we had. From opening businesses to catching up with loved ones or even traveling to other states again.
This could very well be a game-changer if it’s adopted on a global scale. People with symptoms would be able to self-isolate, identify contacts, report online to a national database, and the problem of mapping and rapidly quarantining those with coronavirus would be largely solved. Saving Christmas seems plausible even with the new variant on the loose but it needs to be done together. Only then we can be really confident in celebrating this merry and jolly season.