As the world struggles to cope with the reality of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, many here in Kuching, Sarawak are taking proactive measures to keep their businesses and livelihoods alive amidst uncertain times. The Borneo Post sat down with some of these Kuchingnites to see what they have been doing to fight the virus and ensure that the safety of their customers and patients are paramount by keeping to the new norms.
Doctor adapts to routine under new normal
AMIDST the Covid-19 pandemic, industries and businesses have no choice but to adapt to the ‘new normal’ in their daily operations and activities.
Even medical professionals who do not deal with Covid-19 patients directly have found themselves getting used to the routines required under the new normal.
General paediatrician Dr Chin Saw Sian said the private hospital where she works is no longer buzzing with people as with the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) firmly in place.
“We used to see everyone in our clinic inside the main building, but now only those with appointments and without symptoms are allowed inside. We now have a special clinic outside the building to see those with fever or acute illness. We used to hold public talks regularly in the auditorium and all that have been converted to an online platform.
“For in-patients, we have a limited number of caregivers for each patient, and limited visiting hours, unlike pre-Movement Control Order when we did not has any limit. We also screen the Covid-19 status for all patients who need admission, if indicated, caregivers as well,” she shared with The Borneo Post recently.
Dr Chin noted that the new normal has also created challenges such as manpower issues.
“Segregation of different patients at different areas (based on symptoms or sickness) – all these involves a manpower from different teams to direct traffic and so on.
“For sure all the hospital staff need personal protective equipment (PPE) at different levels and different situations. We have created tonnes of plastic (waste) since MCO,” she said.
As for her young patients, Dr Chin shared that many infants exhibited anxiety with medical staff masking their faces as they were not able to read full facial expressions.
“I want to blow bubbles in front of my kid patients again! I hope an effective vaccine will arrive soon, although realistically it probably is not going to happen for another year or two. Even if a vaccine is in place, we still need to see if it is effective or not,” she said.
Doom and gloom aside, Dr Chin is seeing some hopes in this pandemic, as people are more aware of the importance of personal hygiene and vaccination.
“I hope health literacy will improve even after the pandemic. That will reduce the harm caused by viral fake news as well,” she said.
Bakery adopts additional measures to keep everyone safe
FOR baker Abigail Lim, there have not been too many changes in her workplace under the new normal due to Covid-19 pandemic.
As a business dealing with perishable food, the home-based bakery has always had to observe hygiene at the highest possible level.
She observed that the ‘new normal’ now would be the sanitisation of ingredients and materials when they arrive at the premises, increased frequency in sanitising the work area and delivery car, and also limiting the delivery works to one person.
On the business side she said, they have adopted additional measures for everyone’s safety.
“We don’t do customer drop-ins. Inquiries and orders are made via WhatsApp or messages on our social media platforms and all payments are made online to aviod physical contact with customers.
“Customers are also now accustomed to the social distancing practices when receiving their deliveries. They also prefer to have their orders delivered to them instead of picking them up, which is convenient for them,” she said.
The new normal has also presented its fair share of challenges for Lim, not just in terms of the cost of buying sanitising products.
“With the pandemic, celebrations are now held very small-scales so we only get very small orders as opposed to when people could hold to big parties. We also have to come up with items to cater for small celebrations at home as a full-sized cake is often too much for small families to finish.
“The biggest impact is that we have gotten nearly no wedding cake orders as weddings have all either been cancelled or postponed. These actually made up the bulk of our income previously,” she said.
Lim hopes that people can have big-scale celebrations again, as she is looking forward to being able to do large orders, especially wedding cakes, again.
“Wedding cakes are our primary focus and we are trying to popularise having real, customise cakes for weddings as opposed to using dummy cakes provided by hotels.
“We have had a lot of our regulars clients expressing how they regret of not being able to have parties with our cakes and desserts as that is something that they look forward to every year. So it would be nice to have them to be able to do that again,” she said.
New normal means adapting to sudden changes in plans
YOYO entertainer and freelance emcee Ryan Han’s new normal in the entertainment industry includes having to accommodate to sudden changes or even last-minute cancellation of events.
Even if he secures a job, there is still uncertainty over whether the event will take place as sometimes the organiser or client may cancel due to some problems.
“Like you have been looking forward to a paid job but in the end, it becomes a disappointment.
“Recently I had a job cancelled because the client cannot fly in from Sabah. I was really sad. I know it is not just happening to me but to others as well throughout the world,” he said.
Han, who also does videography, admitted that he is feeling the pinch as there have fewer job opportunities during this uncertain period.
“Back then, entertainment was great. In one event, you had hundreds of people, sometimes even up to thousands, filling up the space.
“I am never a fan of wearing mask in events, especially while emceeing, but because of this pandemic I had to wear masks because it is part of the SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) and because of fear of THE infection,” he said.
Han is still hoping for the best and he believes that more events are coming back and things will turn around again.
However, he also hopes that the Government could lend a helping hand to entertainment freelancers like him who are struggling to make ends meet due to the pandemic.