It’s Sunday 11:55 pm, 22nd March and after finishing my regular before-sleep meditation I decided to sit down to Ikea armchair next to the window with a view to an eerily empty and quiet street. The silence is only occasionally broken by the barking of stray dogs, that I occasionally go feed, or Foodpanda motorbike food delivery zooming by.
It’s been quite an unusual and turbulent week and looking back, it was equally bizarre by how fast things escalated.
Today was the Day 5 of the official lockdown of whole Malaysia due to significant jump in numbers of infected by COVID19. That’s after 16,000-strong crowd decided to throw a religious event at Sri Petaling, on the very outskirt of KL a few weeks before – despite the fact that coronavirus was already making headlines around the world since January.
But the problem that was at first perceived by the general public as some sort of science fiction movie that is entertaining but very much detached from local reality suddenly became uncomfortably real and imminent for everyone in a matter of days.
This is my review of the week.
Monday – Day -1
It was a day like any other. I woke up, did my breakfast and head over to my co-working space in TTDI. I was aware of coronavirus raging in other countries, with Italy taking unfortunate first place from China in terms of numbers of infected. But it was all pretty distant and whole COVID19 topic seemed like a hype that was already slowly fading away.
Except on this Monday I inexplicably kept encountering rushing people with to the top filled shopping bags. There was also odd commotion going on among local coworkers – at least those who actually came to office on that day. The place was half empty.
Later I found out that the grocery store downstairs, that haven’t seen more than ten shoppers simultaneously for the past three years I’ve been around, was on this day suddenly bustling with throngs of panicked crowd emptying practically all shelves of the store and creating endless queues at the shocked cashier.
I had absolutely no clue what’s going on and why so sudden. Just a disbelief about the crowds resembling panicked sheep.
Only much later I found out about news talking about the massive religious gathering in Sri Petaling that was responsible for the huge spike in new coronavirus infections and traced back as an emerging epicentre of the pandemic in South East Asia.
As a direct consequence, prime minister of Malaysia notified he’ll make an announcement tonight whether the country will go on lockdown or not.
Tuesday – Day 0
Last chance to grab a dinner outside
All companies and non-essential stores are ordered to be closed down immediately, starting on Wednesday.
That applies also for the co-working space, my source of internet connection. Awesome.
Predicting that people might go even more intense on panic buying on the last day before lockdown, I decided to get up early and get my grocery done first thing in the morning.
Contrary to what I usually do, I booked a Grab that morning to save some travel time on my way to wet market in TTDI. ironically, that turned up to be the exact opposite. A big part of the highway was stun by heavy traffic caused by shoppers heading to wet market as well and parking their cars alongside the road.
Reaching the market at around 8:20 am, the place was already bustling with the panicked crowd filling up their big bags with groceries and leaving behind nothing but empty shelves.
I managed to still get most of what I needed and felt a pinch of embarrassment that for the fear from panicked crowds emptying all grocery shelves again, me too is turning into one of them. A ripple effect in its finest.
Coworking space was even more empty than day before. We were asked if the Government’s order to shut down the office will affect our work. Well, yeah, it will. But not that it will change anything.
I was still convinced that whole this panic and coronavirus situation in Malaysia is slightly blown out of proportions. But what can one do, right?