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AFTER rising sharply for five continuous months from April, Covid-19 infections have started to decline in September, dropping to 499,441 cases compared to 632,982 in August.
This year, the average number of daily cases was lowest in March, at only 1,443 cases per day and went up to 2,107 in April, shot up to 5,279 in May and 5,987 in June.
Then it rocketed to 11,655 in July and hit the roof in August with an average of 20,419 cases daily. Mercifully, it dropped to 16,648 in September.
While the daily average was 18,979 daily in the first half of the month, it dropped significantly to 14,317 in the second half. This trajectory will continue in October and, very soon, the number will drop below 10,000.
Without any delay, the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry announced on September 9 that Langkawi would be launched as a pilot destination to be reopened to fully vaccinated local tourists beginning September 16.
The ministry had also organised a three-day workshop on the island to revise the “Travel and Tours Enhancement Course”, which was attended by 34 participants, mainly from the Klang Valley.
I was among those that flew to Langkawi on September 29 from klia2. At the airport, I undergone a Covid-19 test using a rapid test kit RTK-Antigen that I had brought along.
Instead of using a long nasal swab to be inserted deep into both nostrils, all I had to do was spit into a tiny funnel and the sample showed the result in 15 minutes.
After being tested negative, I was allowed to enter the departure hall and found many passengers were already at the gate, as most had arrived very early. The aircraft was almost fully loaded.
Unfortunately, the results of several workshop participants were positive. Surprised and unconvinced, they went for a laboratory test and were certified negative. All managed to arrive in Langkawi later.
In hindsight, it is safer to have prior testing instead of doing it at the airport, particularly for families travelling in a group, as everyone could be stranded if just one is found positive.
The Langkawi travel bubble is indeed critical to revitalise tourism, as valuable lessons and experiences could be gleaned from this pilot project by both tourists and service providers.
*YS Chan reads The Malaysian Insight.