KUALA LUMPUR, April 16 — Today marks one month since Malaysians started living under the Movement Control Order (MCO) implemented on March 18 to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many things have changed, life in the city does not seem so busy, schools and educational institutions are still closed, only essential services are allowed to continue, and many are using this ‘break’ to be with their families – all that most people, especially those living in the big cities, want.
Right now, the question that is burning in the minds of most people is when will the MCO end, especially with the month of Ramadan due to start next week, but this year, there will be no trips to the Ramadan bazaars and no congregational terawih prayers in mosques and surau.
How has the MCO really affected our daily life, has it changed the way we think and behave?
Director of Counselling at the Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI) Dr Fauziah binti Mohd Sa’ad feels that Malaysians are still in the process of adapting themselves to life under the MCO.
“We are now faced with a situation which is very different from a month ago,,” she told Bernama.
“It is a drastic change, but we have to be open and accept the situation because it is a matter of life and death, and we have to break the chain of infection of COVID-19,” she said.
Dr Fauziah said adopting a positive attitude will make life under the MCO more bearable, while being negative will only worsen it.
“Being negative affects everything. But when we think positively, we build good energy in our thoughts, which helps us deal with the boredom or stress of staying at home,” she said.
One way to remain positive, she said, was to perform activities which break the monotony of everyday routines.
Psychologist at the Department of Educational Psychology and Counselling, Universiti Malaya (UM), Professor Datin Dr Mariani Md Nor said the MCO was actually a “blessing-in-disguise” as it had many benefits.
She said the COVID-19 issue had actually taught Malaysians to be more disciplined, as well as fostering togetherness in the family.
“Where previously, people were not diligent about washing their hands, it has now become an automatic habit. And the MCO has brought families closer together, where they eat and do many activities together. Now, with Ramadan coming up, there are many religious activities that can be done together.
“Living with the MCO, people must find creative ways to spend time, or they will become easily bored and stressed, which will affect their mental health,” she said.
She added that since there will be no Ramadan bazaars this year, parents can use the MCO period for cooking sessions with the children as well as to perform the terawih prayers with the family.
Meanwhile, teacher Rani, 28, said she makes use of the MCO period to adopt a healthy lifestyle by cooking her own meals and exercising at home.
“Since the MCO started, I have lost weight as I now have more time to do my work-outs at home,” Rani, who hails from Johor, said.
At the same time, she said, the MCO has not affected her duties as a teacher as she conducts online classes for her students so that they do not fall behind in their studies.
A look at the social platforms on the internet found that many netizens have used MCO for beneficial purposes such as gardening, trying out new recipes as well doing online businesses.
In fact, one Facebook cooking group, the ‘Daily Homecook Meal’ has even organised a cooking competition where the participants get to show off their creative cooking skills.
So there are positive results from the MCO, and this combined with public compliance with the order, will get the country out of the COVID-19 pandemic.