Malaysia has entered the third phase of the movement control order, and our friends in Singapore have started a circuit breaker period on 7 April. While most of us are experiencing a slump in motivation and positivity amidst the rising number of COVID-19 cases, not all is bad news. If everything you’ve been reading lately is all about coronavirus, let’s take a break for a moment. We’ve compiled some of the best things that have happened in Malaysia and around the world to lift up your spirits, down below!
Higher number of recoveries than new cases
While we may not be able to see when the epidemic is going to end, we need to highlight that of the 5,182 COVID-19 cases in Malaysia, more than half have recovered and been discharged. The country’s recovery rate is at 53.4% and is among the highest worldwide! We also have one of the lowest fatality rates in the world at 1.6%. Let’s hope the recovery cases continue to rise, so be responsible and stay home!
Animal-lover Malaysians helped Zoo Negara avoid financial disaster
If there’s one thing Malaysians can prove during this pandemic, it is that we’re a bunch of animal lovers. Thanks to thousands of Malaysians adopting the animals through its Adopt An Animal campaign, Zoo Negara has managed to avoid financial disaster by raising nearly RM1 million. Initially, as a result of the shutdown, the zoo has failed to cover its operating costs due to a loss of revenue from ticket sales, space rentals and corporate sponsorships. The zoo, which houses over 4,000 animals, only had enough funds for three months. To those who have donated, the animals thank you.
If you want to help the animals, visit https://www.zoonegaramalaysia.my/adopt.html.
Malaysians enjoy clearer skies
Apparently, people in India can see the Himalayas for the first time in decades as the lockdown eases air pollution. They’re not alone. Malaysians are also experiencing clearer skies and cleaner air these days as there are less cars on the road. According to Think City, there’s a fall in nitrogen dioxide levels in our skies, especially over Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru, since the social distancing period began on March 18. Nitrogen dioxide is a widespread air pollutant produced by the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas, with about 80 percent coming from motor vehicle exhaust fumes. This stay-at-home period is truly a blessing in disguise.
800 homeless in KL to be offered jobs after MCO is lifted
Federal Territories Minister Annuar Musa has announced that more than 800 homeless people that are currently placed in four community centers in Kuala Lumpur will be offered jobs once the movement control order is lifted. They’ll be vetted and trained to work as Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) general workers or production operators in factories. Can this actually tackle the issue of homelessness and unemployment? It remains to be seen.
US returned RM1.3 billion 1MDB money to Malaysia
With all the coronavirus-related news that is flooding your timeline these days, you might miss the one where the US Department of Justice (DoJ) returned another US$300 million (RM1.3 billion) of stolen funds related to the 1MDB corruption scandal. This makes a total of US$620mil (RM2.38bil) of returned funds to date. Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said that the US$300mil represents some of the assets which had been forfeited and later sold. It also includes proceeds from 1MDB-linked assets that were given up or forfeited by individuals linked to Jho Low.
Taiwan reported zero new coronavirus cases
For the first time in 36 days, on 14 April, Taiwan reported no new cases of COVID-19. Taiwan health minister and Central Epidemic Command Center head Chen Shih-chung said the last time Taiwan had reported zero new cases was March 9. The country has been applauded for its efforts to quickly identify, isolate and trace contacts of confirmed cases. So far, Taiwan has reported 365 COVID-19 cases with only six deaths.
In another heartfelt news, Taiwan health officials wore pink masks during a press conference in response to complaints that the color sparked bullying in schools. Apparently, some male students had refused to wear pink face masks to school for fear of being ridiculed by classmates. There’s nothing better than key leaders making solidarity efforts for gender equality!
Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Chanel produce face masks
Designer face masks, anyone? These three designer names are no stranger among fashion connoisseurs for being the trendsetter in handbags, dresses and shoes. While only 1% of the world’s population can afford to own and flaunt their designer items, now, the frontliners will have their chance. Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Chanel are making protective clothing for those who are on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. The designers’ workshops and factories have been repurposed to produce non-surgical face masks and hospital gowns for healthcare workers. It’s gonna be haute couture week at the hospitals!
Dozens of tourism elephants are “set free” due to pandemic
The coronavirus brought good news to the elephants in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Since tourism is a no-go during the outbreak of COVID-19, elephant parks in northern Thailand are forced to close. The owners have decided to remove the huge wooden and metal seats that are strapped to the elephants’ backs throughout the day. The Maesa Elephant Camp has also decided that it won’t make its 78 elephants wear the heavy carriages once the business is reopened. Instead, the animals will be allowed to roam freely in the camp’s grounds, where visitors can observe them in their natural habitat.
Women leaders proved that they have the best coronavirus responses
What do countries with the best coronavirus responses have in common? Women leaders. Cases in point:
The Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel told her countrymen that the coronavirus would infect up to 70% of the population. The country started mass testing and the cases are far below its European neighbours.
Under the leadership of Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Iceland is offering free coronavirus testing to all its citizens, which becomes a key case study in the true spread and fatality rates of COVID-19. This differs to most countries where they would limit testing to people with active symptoms. The thorough tracking system meant that they haven’t had to enforce a lockdown or shut schools.
Norway’s Prime Minister, Erna Solberg, had the innovative idea of using television to talk directly to the country’s most impressionable and curious — children. She responded to kids’ questions from across the country to help kids process coronavirus. She used the opportunity to explain that everyone who could stay home should, and that adults who are healthy don’t usually become very ill from the virus.
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen was among the first and fastest to respond to the threat of coronavirus. At the first sign of a new illness in January, she introduced 124 measures to block the spread without having to resort to the lockdowns that have become common elsewhere. Taiwan managed to keep the epidemic under control, reporting only six deaths.
Another world leader to decide on an early lockdown is Jacinda Ardern. She imposed self-isolation on people entering New Zealand early, when there were just six cases in the whole country, and banned foreigners from entering soon after. As of mid-April, New Zealand has reported only four deaths.
If this pandemic can prove one thing, it is that we need more female leaders in the world.
The COVID-19 outbreak has undoubtedly launched us into an uncertain time where things change rapidly every day, but good news still prevails. If this list has proven anything, it’s that we are all in this together! We hope you’re staying safe and healthy.