Life with Rona – Day 56

One of the busiest days I’ve had, largely due to unplanned/non-calendared events that I would consider happy events. I was scheduled to start work for a West Coast client at 6am, but for some reason I was up by 4am… All this done, I took a short nap (it maybe lasted 30 minutes) before the power went out and rudely awakened me. I was pleasantly surprised to see cake, a platter of cheese/cold cuts and more (olives, beetroot, hummus, and more) that Radiance, Lauren and Sal sent over. Shortly thereafter, more cheese that Sara sent over (promptly to the fridge). So lunch was unplanned but much fun, taking me back to days in Spain (or really, any tapas bar I could be at).

Back to the grind, and I did a short workout with Zuleeka at Fly. It was of the boxing variant, and I’m finding it really tough to grasp boxing, in general. It just doesn’t seem like the workout for me. Anyway, showered, back to the grind, and was surprised at dinner to note that my mother and 2 aunts had cooked up a storm of my favourite dishes (Crabs, petai, tempeh, fried chicken, mutton, and salad), plus there was also a cake waiting later (butter cake with lovely icing). Socialised, extremely grateful, extremely appreciative, considering we are in a Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) and all this was done. And then I went on to doing another call…

Feel very lucky overall. It has been a while since I’ve celebrated my birthday in KL. Let alone in my home. Where I’ve been self-isolating for 56 days. I never thought it would be this fun! Uptime of some 20 hours… Thanks for all the wishes.

Malaysia’s Covid-19 situation on Tuesday: 6,742 (+16) total cases, 5,223 (+110) recoveries, 109 dead. 16 in ICU beds, 3 on ventilators.

Restaurants can restart in Selangor for dine-ins (yes!). We’ve also been told that just your name and telephone number needs to be left behind for contact tracing (so no identity card number — good). I see in Singapore, Terminal 4 in Changi (AirAsia, Cathay Pacific) is closing temporarily later this week… joining Terminal 2; makes me sad to note this is happening. When will travel recover?

I am stepping out tomorrow to take a look at what is going on. I have some errands to run. I will be in a mask. I will likely be in gym clothings (I don’t have enough jeans or shorts to cycle on a daily basis anyway; I have way more Lululemons though). I wish I had more time to read today, but hey, something’s gotta give!

Life with Rona – Days 51, 52, 53, 54, and 55

Long batch between writing. The daily bit failed. Oops. But the work has accelerated. From a workout perspective, Ping finally started charging for some workouts and I did one on Sunday (it was great). Mother’s Day lunch was good too, and we got a little additional gift from the Prime Minister — CMCO till June 9th. Frankly, my interest in staying home fully (self-imposed exile) is wearing thin. I think I’ll be out by May 13.

Malaysia’s Covid-19 situation on Thursday: 6,467 (+39) total cases, 4,776 (+74) recoveries, 107 dead. 19 in ICU beds, 9 on ventilators.

Malaysia’a Covid-19 situation on Friday: 6,535 (+68) total cases, 4,864 (+88) recoveries, 107 dead.

Malaysia’s Covid-19 situation on Saturday: 6,589 (+54) total cases, 4,929 (+65) recoveries, 108 (+1) dead.

Malaysia’s Covid-19 situation on Sunday: 6,656 (+67) total cases, 5,025 (+96) recoveries, 108 dead.

Malaysia’s Covid-19 situation on Monday: 6,726 (+70) total cases, 5,113 (+88) recoveries, 109 (+1) dead. 20 in ICU beds, 7 on ventilators.

We never did manage to bring the numbers down to single digits, did we? As long as the healthcare system can cope, right? Which then brings the question of how we have been tearing up the economy. MCO ups unemployment to 34-year high, says stats dept is truly scary. And it will get worse after the Hari Raya holidays. Things like Jonker Walk in Malacca are in trouble. Truly sad, considering this is part of visiting Malacca.

While I do agree that no place should refuse custom without a mask, the tone was rather ridiculous; encourage people to wear masks. Always. Malaysia is also finding more foreign worker clusters, and my gut feeling is that it will be worse than Singapore, long term (we don’t have foreign worker dormitories, they fend for themselves; and we also have a lot of illegal immigration). It is no surprise, crowded living quarters are to blame. Lots of flip flopping around the serving of liquor, and it seems the general idea is yes, as long as you’re a restaurant (not a pub).

Travel resumption seems to be a little nuts: China, South Korea Move to Revive Business Travel Between Them, Coronavirus: Australia and New Zealand consider opening borders to create ‘Trans-Tasman bubble’, Taiwan keeps its borders shut despite virus success. Why the UK’s New 14-Day Quarantine Rule Is Particularly Troubling to Business Travel Managers. All this seems to be long-term unsustainable.

Now for a little gag, Royal Selangor Club bars closed after MCO violations. The Club reopened last week, and on Friday a circular went out to members saying we could even bring one guest per member. It didn’t last long. This is why we can’t have nice things.

Life with Rona – Days 49 and 50

It has been a busy few days at work (lots of output and other kinds of writing clearly), so this ends up taking a back seat! I quite enjoyed salad wraps, puttu, bangers & mash and more in the last two days. From a workout standpoint I did Aiman on Tuesday, and on Wednesday took it easier with some yoga by Charmaine.

Malaysia’s Covid-19 situation on Tuesday: 6,386 (+30) total cases, 4,567 (+83) recoveries, 106 (+1) dead. All transmissions were local in these 30 cases.

Malaysia’s Covid-19 situation on Wednesday: 6,428 (+45) total cases, 4,702 (+135) recoveries, 107 (+1) dead. 22 in ICU beds, 9 on ventilators.

We’re seeing some great flip flops around eateries, now with them saying, Pubs, eateries selling liquor not allowed to open under CMCO. I was watching the stock market towards the end of closing, and saw bank stocks drop quite a bit, only to realise they dropped the compounded interest on hire purchase loans… so banks are eating the cost. It is clear that Malaysia is suffering due to jostling for power. Politics plays such a huge role in our lives.

Life with Rona – Days 46, 47, and 48

It is clear that weekends away from a computer are good weekends. It is funny because this is not normally something I do normally, but I think I am working a lot harder during these fun times (timezones really are what gets to me).

Saturday was eating up yesterday’s chicken rice. Did a workout with Psycle London instead (when I burn my SoulCycle London credits, I may actually be a convert to Psycle, since it is nearer to where I stay, and their community output is amazing during this lockdown). Sunday was puttu for brunch, and yong tau foo for dinner. Ping did an amazing workout, and it was from her new studio, and they had a limited edition mat for sale, which I naturally purchased (maybe 6 minutes after launch). Needless to say, it sold out. Today, I did a workout with Lye at FlyProject, which was a killer. Breakfast was roti telur, and dinner was a burger.

Malaysia’s Covid-19 situation on Saturday: 6,176 (+105) total cases, 4,326 (+116) recoveries, 103 dead. To note, 94 are local transmissions, which continues to indicate community spread.

Malaysia’s Covid-19 situation on Sunday: 6,298 (+122) total cases, 4,413 (+87) recoveries, 105 (+2) dead. Local transmission at 70, the rest being imported. 27 in ICU bends, 13 on ventilators.

Malaysia’s Covid-19 situation on Monday: 6,353 (+55) total cases, 4,484 (+71) recoveries, 105 dead. 48 cases today were local transmissions! 28 in ICU beds, 13 on ventilators.

Gyms can’t reopen, but long before, there was already a good open letter in Sarawak. We need to see this happen in the Klang Valley (and elsewhere, I guess, but clearly, I am being selfish).

They said the reopening is not rushed, and a little more on border controls. The fact that we are using less than 30% of our capacity is good news (I should think the MCO time was to also build out capacity). We’re only using 1% of our ventilators (OK, capacity clearly built out there). Today’s CMCO should have seen more people move about, but TomTom traffic data suggests not really. After all, 9 states disagreed with the federal ruling, so I presume a lot stayed at home today. Interesting to see that the threat is lawsuits if the shutdowns aren’t lifted, and the laws have been gazetted so we should travel without fear.

I’m still staying home until the MCO is lifted (so it will end on May 12).

I know nothing about pawnbrokers and today was somewhat of a busy day so I did retweet pictures of queues outside pawnbrokers. We see this from Malay Mail: As MCO continues, Malaysians seen lining up at pawn shops for much-needed cash and we see this from The Malaysian Insight: CMCO first day sees big rush for the pawnbrokers. One suggests problems with people’s finances, the other suggests it is just people paying interest, kind of like on a bank loan. Then there are Google Trends, which shows a steady interest over time in the term “pajak gadai” (look at the subregions, Perlis, Terengganu, Kedah, Kelantan, and Negeri Sembilan tend to prefer this term), whereas “pawn” seems to be in most use in Sarawak, Sabah, Penang, Selangor, then Perak, and “kedai pajak” has use in Malacca, Johor and so on. Again, if you look at the numbers in the last 30 days, things don’t seem to be all that different (similar in 90 days). But the graph for the past 7 days suggests bad things are happening with a major spike… but it doesn’t really reflect reality! So trends matter, and you want to be aware of short term spikes. And pay for your news…

My Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) During The Time of the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

These are just my Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), and don’t necessarily represent any professional advice. I do believe life has to go back to as normal as possible, because we are going to have this issue for several years.

This is what I think will work for me. I’m a high frequency traveler, who has in over 15 years been woefully sick once on the road, and most colds/flus go away reasonably quickly with the medicine I have in my medicine kit. I take supplements daily (Vitamin C is amongst them). I track my bodily functions as best as can be (Apple Watch, Fitbit, and Oura ring to also help detect temperature changes).

One piece of advice I have is to remember to never forget having empathy, because not everyone is going to follow the following SOPs. Remember to also be caring — it does not hurt to share what you have.

  1. It goes without saying, that if I am feeling sick, I will be staying home. If I have to sneeze, doing so in a mask, seems odd, so into the elbow. Coughing in a mask will be similar. Bottom line is: if I don’t feel well, I’m not headed out. Stay home, rest, and ensure that I’m only out when I feel well.

Further reading: Coughing and Sneezing, Sneeze Into Your Elbow, Not Your Hand. Please.

  1. Shaking hands is not going to happen. Even before the COVID-19 debacle, I would wash my hands after shaking hands. For Malaysians, this also means avoiding the “salam greeting” that involves even kissing hands (I don’t do this, but there are kids that do this to me sometimes, and I will politely decline). I am OK with a high five after a workout, mainly because I am headed to the washroom right after to wash my hands anyway.

Overall, the key here is: wash your hands before you touch your face. I wear glasses, so touching my eyes is quite rare. I almost never eat anything with my hands (save for things like nuts, bread, pizza), and I always wash before eating them. The time to clean your nose is while you’re showering, or over a tap in the comfort of your toilet.

  1. Wear a mask while being outside, always. The only exception to this is while eating and drinking. This is a cloth based reusable mask, washed on a daily basis. It might even be put into a bag on a per-use basis, for example when indoor gyms reopen, and I return to my spin studio (cycling on a stationary bike).

Further reading: Should You Wear a Mask When Exercising Outdoors?, Exercising Outdoors With a Face Mask, Ask Stew: Military PT and Exercise With Face Masks for Training and the Gym, Exercising with a face mask: The do’s and don’ts

  1. Social distancing is what a lot of people talk about but the key here is physical distancing. I am going to focus on two metres (2m) from others, not the general 1m that is recommended in Malaysia. To gauge, this is basically standing apart one of me. That means in a spin studio, or gym, I do not necessarily want to be extremely close to the other person.

Further reading: Social Distancing, Quarantine, and Isolation

  1. I talk a lot about gyms and spin studios. I have access to 3 gyms and regularly rotate between 3 spin studios (sometimes 4). I will go back as soon as they reopen. It is important to balance lives and livelihoods, and spin studios have many wonderful instructors; every gym I visit has an ageing population that constitutes its members. In a gym, I have always wiped down the equipment (typically an elliptical) before and after a workout. This is important — it annoys me to no end that people don’t do this. I do this at hotels too, obviously (though some better hotels have attendants that handle the cleaning).

As for spin studios, I carry my own: antibacterial cleansing wipes and I also spray the equipment down with Dettol/Lysol antibacterial spray. I do this before using the equipment, as an added precaution (they are cleaned between sessions anyway). Feel free to share it with other riders next to you (I did this before the MCO).

I will resume morning walks at the parks, because I do not think this is an issue and it is good to get a dose of Vitamin D.

I am thinking about gym gloves as well. I have not decided about the use of a sauna yet. Nor have I decided on the risks from swimming.

Further reading: Is it possible to contract the coronavirus from swimming?

  1. I will return to dining out and visiting bars without issue. I will be socially distanced (1m at least from the next person), and this is again for a limited amount of people that I have as friends. When I go to a Chinese restaurant and we order dishes, I have always asked for a serving spoon for individual dishes; this practice continues (and you should adopt it, too). When I go to a “bak kut teh” shop, we normally share from a communal pot, and I am going to ask for individual bowls instead. As stated before, I practically never eat with hands, even when it comes to banana leaf rice, I use cutlery, so this does not change (you might consider using cutlery too).

It is going to change how I consume burgers and pizza slices when I’m outside. I am going to prefer to eat with cutlery. This is more psychological than it is practical, since I can continue washing my hands, eating, and then washing again after. This barrier may only be temporary.

I have never been much of a buffet person, and eat quite spartanly at a breakfast buffet. This is due to years of travelling and seeing how people behave at breakfast buffets. I prefer to eat at the club lounges (less people, hopefully more sophisticated), but overall I am going to prefer cooked food brought to my table over anything at a buffet. I was in Tokyo late February, when an international hotel chain gave their hotels 72-hours to implement scrapping buffets for meals brought to tables; this is what I will continue in terms of eating habits at buffets (generally, avoiding them).

In Malaysia, this means avoiding “chap fan” stalls (where food is kept in the open and you can serve yourself), and even some nasi lemak stalls (though these tend to be better; the seller serves you, and also closes the containers).

  1. Carry hand sanitiser always, and again, share and use liberally. It does not take away from the usual hand washing, but this is for situations where I can’t access running water and soap.
  2. When returning home, clothes straight to the wash, and a nice long hot shower before switching to clothes that I will wear within the house.

This also means purchasing more pairs of jeans (I only own 2). I am told Uniqlo has good deals. Though most of my days in Kuala Lumpur, I get away with gym attire.

Further reading: Is the Virus on My Clothes? My Shoes? My Hair? My Newspaper?

  1. I am going to vote with my wallet, by going to places that temperature screen patrons. It goes without saying that I am expecting them to also temperature screen employees, but ensuring patrons aren’t being irresponsible and coming in with a fever, is important. Restaurants that do vigorous sanitisation after patrons leave, get a vote in my book.
  2. Asking for my name and phone number for contact tracing purposes is one thing. Asking for my IC number is a no-no in my book. Handling of data is extremely important, and I do not ever want that to leak. So the less information you ask from me, the more I am likely to patronise your establishment. Clubs have this sorted with a club number. Spin studios have this sorted because you can’t spin without having booked a bike. But Joe Random restaurant that wants too much information, is a no go in my books, because I have no idea how this information is going to be kept, destroyed, and so on.
  3. Working in cafes or coworking spaces means that my iPad Pro Smart Keyboard or laptop is touching a surface that may be contaminated. Wipe downs of all devices, daily if they’ve been outside, make a lot of sense. This also includes that phone you’re most definitely holding often and any fitness bands.
  4. I drive more than I take public transport. When I refuel, I am going to make sure I use the hand sanitiser after touching the pump. When I do use public transport, typically the trains, I am going to again use hand sanitiser after. I use Grab’s more than I drive, and I will be sanitising again because I would have to touch door handles, seat belts, and so on.

A Shopping List:

  • more clothes (jeans)
  • antibacterial cleansing wipes/wet wipes
  • antibacterial sprays
  • hand sanitisers
  • washable, reusable face masks
  • gym gloves

This to me is a working list. I will update it based on new information. I will naturally have version control changelogs. Your suggestions are also naturally welcome. Please comment on the Google doc.

Life with Rona – Day 45

Again, up with far too little sleep. Bread with some chestnut spread from Paris, in addition to fresh cucumber and celery juice. Early dinner was chicken rice, with char siew. Very yummy. Did a workout before that with Nick. It was “metabolic conditioning”, and I enjoyed that tremendously (the calorie burn was insanely good). Interestingly, I achieved my Oura activity goal after so long (it is hard during the MCO to get 450 active calories burnt).

Malaysia’s Covid-19 situation: 6,071 (+69) total cases, 4,210 (+39) recoveries, 103 (+1) dead. 37 in ICU beds, 14 on ventilators.

It looks like the government has decided the MCO could end earlier… well, a “controlled MCO”? CMCO? Monday May the 4th, pretty much everything can open, except what is still banned. Notice the barbers didn’t make the cut this time? Anyway, why the rush? Is it because the economy is tanking and there is no more fiscal support? It is also unfortunate that with EMCO areas, they’re going to carry out immigration raids. This is the time to show compassion! Also this re-opening, while it had to happen likely by May 13, one wonders why they rushed it to May 4? Why not get people used to the fact that things are going to open, and they would need to follow SOPs? Of course, MKN’s website went down today (WordPress, MySQL), which is unsurprising.

As for me, I’m going to follow the rules (MCO ends May 12), and still continue my challenge of staying sheltered in place. I hope it is worth it. Besides, gyms aren’t opening, and I can’t hit the pool anyway. Clubs seem to be re-opening on 4th of May, and I’ll be sure to drop by on the 13th.