Life goes on with Covid-19, but most worried about social activities

PETALING JAYA: As Malaysians learn to accept that Covid-19 is here to stay, most are worried about continuing their social activities and spreading the virus to loved ones.

In a survey of Sunday star, most or 37% of those polled said they were more anxious about social activities as life went on with the coronavirus.

These activities include dining out, attending events and other forms of entertainment.

“People tend to forget about social distancing and touch others, such as shaking hands or bersalaman,” one Facebook user said.

The second most common anxiety is returning to work (22%), followed by the use of public transport such as trains, buses and e-hailing vehicles (21%).

Some readers described working from home as “a blessing in disguise,” while others feared being inside crowded trains on their way to work.

“Being in a crowded, confined space only sends my anxiety through the roof,” said a respondent to the three-day Facebook poll that received more than 175 responses.

Others were concerned about medical services like seeing a dentist (13%) and returning to school or campus (7%), some feeling anxious for their school children.

Malaysia is expected to prepare to enter an endemic phase of Covid-19 by the end of October.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin had said people had to start accepting that it was time to “live with the virus”.

To relieve anxiety, it helps to know what things we can and cannot control in our lives. Here are some examples:

Sunday star also asked readers what they think of the coronavirus right now.

Most (35%) feared passing it on to loved ones, followed by fear that others might be asymptomatic despite Covid-19 (23%).

Some 19% of readers were concerned about variants like Delta, while 17% were suspicious of others that did not follow standard operating procedures (SOPs).

However, 6% weren’t too worried about Covid-19 but were more concerned about things like the economy.

On concerns about seeking medical services, the health ministry said it was understandable that some were reluctant to visit clinics for fear of being infected.

“However, it is important that patients continue to check-up or follow-up for the underlying medical conditions.

“Patients should visit health facilities by appointment to avoid traffic jams,” the ministry said, adding that public health clinics have also improved ventilation by organizing virtual clinics.

To alleviate anxiety about returning to the workplace, the ministry said vaccination is the top priority to ensure safety and workers should always adhere to SOPs to avoid clusters.

“Right now, there is no legal mandate for every worker to get vaccinated.

“Nonetheless, employers should make sure workers are vaccinated before returning to work,” he said.

The ministry urged employers to provide hand sanitizers, ask workers to mask themselves and have at least one meter spacing in workstations and dining rooms.

Malaysian Psychological Association President Prof Assoc Dr Wan Shahrazad Wan Sulaiman said although many SOPs have been relaxed, people can still feel anxious.

“In the future, events such as birthdays, wedding receptions or tahlil prayer ceremonies must be carefully organized to ensure the safety of all,” she added.

Malaysian Association for Mental Health President and Consultant Psychiatrist Professor Datuk Dr Andrew Mohanraj said that while students initially wanted to return to campus, some expressed fear of being infected. , apart from the apprehension of using public transport.

“The predicted joy of returning to normal can also cause more anxiety, in terms of social life.

“Fears of maintaining a physical distance and interacting with someone whose immunization status is uncertain can be overwhelming for some.

“Questions about when to remove masks or when to refuse handshakes can be viewed as offensive and could also increase anxiety,” he said.

Joel C. Hicks