AND so it came to this. After months of “fear mongers” crying till they were blue in the face that we needed stronger action versus the COVID threat while COVID deniers were saying the flu was worse. And then when the threat became real and even the President had to get tested, agencies of government swung into action in some uncoordinated way and COVID cases were spiraling out of control.
Finally also someone high up admits: “We do not have enough test kits”.
That’s America for you.
But we are not far behind.
After months of apparently basking under the glow of being a model of containment, the Secretary of Health admits that we don’t have enough test kits. Two countries announce that their latest cases were “imported” – travelers coming from the Philippines tested positive for the virus. And that’s when the you-know-what hit the fan.
We were a model of containment based on the policy of what you didn’t know didn’t count.
The government then hastily assembled a public announcement that schools would be it for four days. Four days? Why four days. I asked on FB, if the incubation period was 14, and if the rest of society still went about its merry ways? Then the government recalculated and a draft document or recommendations began circulating, proposing some form of lockdown in Metro Manila. The document was called a fake. And then the President comes on national TV, two hours or more behind schedule, and does what? Reads the same document earlier called fake by his spokespersons.
And reads it with the uniformed services behind him. No doctor around. Or should I say no reputable doctor around.
So we throw elements of the AFP and the PNP at checkpoints to keep Metro Manilans from spreading the virus elsewhere and non-Metro Manilans from coming in and then bringing home the virus as pasalubong. Except there were and are numerous issues in the set-up.
First, before the policy came into force, a teeming horde flocked the airports and bus terminals to catch the last ride out of the capital region. A horde of untested individuals who – as proven by the case of one male passenger on a Jam bus to Lucena – could have been (in this Jam case actually was!) bringing the virus with them to the provinces.
Just as bad, our soldiers and policemen were thrown to the checkpoints with rifles and not protective gear – which made you ask the question: who is the enemy? In effect we threw men and women into the frontlines unprepared – sans equipment and even training at handing a virus outbreak. Know what? When they go home at night? They too could be bringing home the enemy.
And hospitals begin to suffer from the weight of the challenge before them – lack of equipment, lack of personnel, lack of beds.
Some time back in this space I asked the DOH – when you say you have enough kits, how many is enough? It took a senate hearing to reveal the number: 2000. Jeesas. For a population of 100 million, or even just a Metro Manila population of 12 million, or even just a POGO population of – what – 100,000? We had 2,000 kits at a time when South Korea was testing 10,000 people a day.
“But we are a poor country while South Korea is rich.” Poor we are, yes, but what makes our poverty (money-wise) worse is the poverty in intelligence and even just common sense.
No wonder they need billions in unaudited intelligence funds to buy what they don’t have. But not enough to buy masks.
Philippines. Luck down.