Complacency and the pandemic

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    THE nation is almost inured to bad news about the COVID-19 pandemic, so that any whiff of positive development can be taken as a cause for celebration. Remember when presidential spokesman Harry Roque congratulated Filipinos for logging “only” 37,514 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of last June 30, a little less than the 40,000 figure that was estimated by experts of the University of the Philippines? Doctors on the ground fighting the epidemic disagreed with President Duterte’s spox then, pointing out that at least 15 percent or 3,625 cases will be added to the tally once samples from laboratories and hospitals outside Metro Manila are reckoned. Experts said Roque celebrated too early, and they were proven correct.

    Fast-forward to three months later, the Philippines is now feeling the palpable signs that the epidemic is waning. Several hospitals have reported a decline in the number of COVID-19 admissions, especially those needing the ICU. Foremost of these medical institutions is the Makati Medical Center which even issued an advisory to that effect.

    ‘… the Philippines is now feeling the palpable signs that the epidemic is waning.’

    Meanwhile, public transportation is really opening up, as more and more business establishments restart their operations. The LTFRB announced that starting today, September 14, a total of 1,159 more jeepneys will ply 28 new routes in Metro Manila. That is a big leap from several weeks ago when the National Capital Region was in strict lockdown. Vehicular traffic has gradually returned to the city, with a lot more motorcycles aggressively claiming the roads.

    Also about public transport, the Department of Transportation will implement the easing of physical distancing from one meter to 0.75 meter in trains and jeepneys, still as an accommodation to those who wanted more public mobility as the economy begins to open up some more.

    Meanwhile, Malacañang reacted last week to the New York Times report titled “Coronavirus Map: Tracking the Global Outbreak” which cited the Philippines, along with 63 other countries, where new cases are “lower and staying low.”

    “While the recent trend of COVID-19 figures is positive, we must continuously correlate it with the submissions being made by laboratories daily. These trends demonstrate that the decisions and actions made by the administration are working,” Roque said even as he cautioned Filipinos against being complacent as the threat of the coronavirus is still very much present.

    “Let us, however, not be lulled into complacency. The enemy that is COVID-19 is still in our midst, and unless a cure or vaccine has been made available, we must continue to remain vigilant and observe health protocols, such as wearing masks/face shields, washing of hands, and maintaining a physical distance,” Secretary Roque said.

    We will remember this statement from the Palace spox, one of the few he made that really matters.