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Death toll in Malaysia: Ops Selamat, 171; COVID-19, 0

There has been unnecessary panic with regards to the Wuhan virus outbreak no thanks to irresponsible individuals that share fake news online. There are plenty of conversations and fear-mongering about the coronavirus but yet many Malaysians don’t bat an eye when it comes to road safety.

16,942 road crashes and 171 deaths

According to the latest statistics, there are a total of 171 deaths reported during the 11 days of Ops Selamat in the country. That’s 15.55 deaths per day on Malaysian roads. Selangor has the highest fatalities at 29, followed by Johor (22), Sarawak (18), Pahang (17), and Kedah and Kelantan with 15 each.

According to the Bukit Amin Traffic Investigation and Enforcement Department, there are a total of 16,942 road crashes which involved 25,171 vehicles during the traffic safety operation which was launched on 18th January. As a comparison, last year’s Ops Selamat during the Chinese New Year season recorded a total of 226 deaths that has a rate of 15.1 deaths per day.

8 confirmed Coronavirus cases and 0 deaths

Although social media paints a grimmer picture of the Coronavirus situation in Malaysia, there are currently 8 confirmed cases according to the Ministry of Health with 0 deaths reported so far. All 8 cases in Malaysia are Chinese nationals. As of yesterday, there are 6,059 confirmed cases and there are 132 deaths which are all in China.

The Malaysian authorities have stepped up screening at all 64 entry-points in the country and have suspended visas for Chinese visitors originating from Wuhan city and Hubei province. Despite what you hear from “experts” on social media, Malaysia has the experience and capabilities to handle outbreaks and we’ve gone through other deadly outbreaks including the Nipah virus, SARS, H1N1 and MERS.

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Malaysia’s capability to handle outbreaks has been commended by the WHO. According to the Global Health Security Index, Malaysia is ranked #18 worldwide with a score of 62.2, which is higher than in Japan and Singapore.

A group of Malaysian health professionals have recently urged all Malaysians to take a strong, calm and sensible response to tackle the coronavirus outbreak as spreading rumours and fake news on the Wuhan virus will only distract the Health Ministry from important public health responses. As of yesterday, the Royal Malaysia Police and MCMC have detained 5 individuals for spreading fake news through social media.

Instead of inciting fear on social media, Malaysians can help to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus by taking basic precautions such as washing your hands with soap, avoid touching wild animals and to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. It’s 2020 and we should have more faith in our medical professionals than to listen to “experts” on social media.

Going back to road safety, Malaysians are quite a selfish lot if you look at the list of top offences. During the 11 days of Ops Selamat, the police have issued a total of 290,567 summonses with 62.8% of the offences include the usage of mobile phone, beating the traffic lights, driving over speed limits, using emergency lanes, cutting queue and cutting the double lines.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Malaysians should focus on pressing matters close to home and to put more effort to keep our roads safe.

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Alexander Wong