Phases of House Quarantine

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By Elizabeth Chong Yie-Chuen

A registered pharmacist on the path less trodden – A research assistant @ Monash University, #InclusionHealth advocate and a softie for all things cute

“But they said you will get a fine from the police if you’re not wearing a mask when you are out buying your groceries”

“But he said you will need to stock up as much medicines as the government is running out of stock”

“But she said there will be not enough food to go around”

I bet as you are reading this now, you probably received a WhatsApp message about the COVID-19 not long ago. It is unsurprising that the fear of this virus has seeped into every household of Malaysia. Hence, taking the necessary measures and precautions to maintain good hand hygiene and social distancing is necessary in order to successfully overcome these trying times. With the recent Movement Control Order set in place, I noticed or perhaps experienced some of these phases of self-quarantine which I would like to share today.

Phase 1: The Fear


As fake news is making its way to almost everyone’s WhatsApp inbox, it is inevitable that emotions of anxiousness and panic will soon set in (and, let’s just say, it already has). Hence, it is just as important that we are kept abreast with up-to-date information from credible authentic resources such as the Ministry of Health so we can protect our family and friends better. As much as you think you are doing your family or friend a favour by forwarding them information on the COVID-19, perhaps just pause, and evaluate the information before sending it out.

Phase 2: Panic Buying

this is sparta

With such emotions dwelling around, I guess only 1 statement comes to mind, “SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST”. It is understandable that as humans, we do whatever it takes to protect our loved ones and ourselves. This includes purchasing the necessary to maintain our well-being. However, this very fear has caused one of the most precious commodities of today’s age to be sold out. Hand sanitizers, face masks and thermometers to name a few. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with purchasing them. But, hoarding these items at home does an injustice to the public health system. The most vulnerable (elderly, sickly) are in dire need of these essential items. However, there is none to supply since most stocks have been depleted since early this year. Even when stocks do arrive, prices are heavily inflated and then again, the same vulnerable communities are at the brunt of it. If we do not curb the hoarding, the healthcare professionals who should be protected to look after us may not be able to hold up for much longer due to the shortage of supplies. In recent news, CDC has even resorted to update its crisis capacity guidelines to use bandanas or scarves as “a last resort” where face masks are not available.

Phase 3: The Shame.

The Movement Control Order enacted still allows citizens to purchase their necessities bearing in mind they need to be prudent with their errands. While some have the privilege of their home supply of face masks and hand sanitizers, others are not so equipped and do not have that same luxury. If you see someone not wearing a face mask when you are out in a grocery store, do not shame them. This does not make them any less of a human. As already iterated by the WHO multiple times, you do not need to wear a face mask unless you are feeling unwell (coughing, sneezing) or if you are caring for a suspected COVID-19 patient. Masks are only effective if you practice good hand hygiene. If you do notice someone looking unwell and if you have a face mask to spare, offer them one. If not, gently advise them to stay at home until they feel better.

Phase 4: The Complaints

So, you’re at home. You can’t remember what day it is because everyday is home. You complain about how you miss going out and that you feel so isolated from the world. On the other spectrum, you have healthcare professionals and, in this context, pharmacists working in retail and hospitals who are at the forefront working against this virus. They wish they could Netflix and chill, spend time with their family or not need to worry about whether they would carry the virus to their family members. They risk their lives so you and I can stay at home. If Rapunzel could do it for 18 years of her life, you can hold up for these 4 weeks.


Presenting the ultimate champion of self-quarantine, Rapunzel

It is time we; Malaysians rise above our differences and stand strong to combat this pandemic. This cannot be achieved by one person but is a collective effort. Reach out to your elderly neighbour who lives alone, send an encouraging message to your friends who work in the healthcare line and think twice before you forward health information to your friends.

baby we can do it

Here’s a useful guide about improving mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The opinions expressed in the article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the view of MPS YPC.