Coping with COVID-19
The World Health Organization (WHO), on March 11, elevated the status of the COVID-19 outbreak from epidemic to pandemic. According to the UN News, “By labelling the spread a pandemic, WHO was indicating that the virus was now a worldwide phenomenon. The decisions also reflects the WHO’s concern at what it calls the ‘alarming levels of the coronavirus spread, severity and inaction’, and the expectation that the number of cases, deaths and affected countries will continue to climb.”
On March 12, the government announced drastic measures, others call them draconian, to stop or minimize the spread of the virus, as the spiked numbers of persons under investigation, persons under monitoring and confirmed cases not only here but abroad indicated. To add to the challenges, the capacity of the government to respond to COVID-19 was a very strong concern.
The announcement created confusion not just in the public sector but the affected constituents. Apart from the panic buying that ensued, those in Metro Manila when the lockdown was announced, had to make quick decision whether to stay or fly out. Government offices and schools would not be in operation. Restriction on domestic travel on any form — whether land, sea or air — was expected.
Because business sector was initially exempt from the coverage, many thought that they could still go to work, do social distancing and hygienic practices, just like what Singapore is doing.
For some who could work from home, they were in for a tough choice as going back to the province and be with family would mean exposing members, especially with elderly parents, to the possibility of transmission. Those over 60 years of age or with health conditions are placed at a higher risk.
With the second announcement on Monday of an enhanced community quarantine that covered the entire Luzon and the private sector, only health workers, bank employees and those in food retail establishments were exempt from the travel restrictions.
Many were stranded (defeating social distancing measure) and burden was placed on the local governments to feed their people. Those who are daily paid workers are in a state of grave anxiety for their survival. It is a tough time for all, especially our health workers, police and military manning the checkpoints and the vulnerable sectors.
As we are coping with a real life threatening disaster, to provide direction and calm leadership in this perilous time, and to lessen the burden placed on a mere Inter-agency Task Force, why not fully implement RA 10121, the “Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010”?
It provides a participatory, holistic, comprehensive, integrated, and proactive measures with national, regional, local bodies that are precisely established to cope with pandemics such as COVID-19 and not just natural disasters.
Tedros Adhananon Ghebreyesus, the head of WHO, urged the world not to fixate on the word “pandemic”, but to focus instead on Prevention, Preparedness, Public health, Political leadership and People.
Do you agree? I do./dbs
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