December 5, 2023

With mass testing now a controversial issue with vagueness setting in on whether this is still to be done and by which entity as a key strategy of containing the Covid-19, health experts are re-echoing more aggressively their appeal for the general public to heed the precautions and protocols against the contagion.
Even more worrisome is the pronouncement of Health Sec. Francisco Duque that the country is now on its second wave of the Covid-19, just a day after the so-called health experts said the curve has been “flattened,” throwing confusion on an already complex problem.
With this doubt on data coupled with the fact that the country does not have advanced health care facilities and technologies as that of other countries, other strategies must be given significant attention.
For one, there are the quarantine measures.
We share the view that the transition from enhanced to general community qua-rantine does not mean that the government is winning its war against Covid-19, but is merely meant to help industries and businesses get back on their feet, which means the threat of deaths and infections remains.
As authorities ease some pandemic restrictions, health experts still fear the uncertainty on up to what extent the Covid-19 infection will affect the country’s population, especially at a time when people are becoming restless and leaving their homes after a two-month lockdown in Luzon. Malacañang has warned that any untoward development will prompt another lockdown.
In Baguio, images of residents strictly following protocols such as physical distancing have gone viral. But it is not the reality on the ground at all times because like in most other areas, there are still individuals who disregard protocols, unmindful of the welfare of others.
The statistics of the country in battling the Covid-19 is not in its favor as Department of Health records show that Covid-19 cases have breached the 13,000 mark just two days after the government eased up restrictions in many areas.
While mass testing is next to impossible due to the lack of test kits and resources, the government must strike a balance between public health and a penchant for economic growth. The government must ensure that public health remains paramount in its post-Covid lockdown policies now termed as the new normal. After all, the economy will flourish in the same proportion as the health and vitality of our citizens.
We laud the local governments in the Cordillera with special mention to the city government of Baguio for ensuring a responsive government in time of the Covid-19 crisis by painstakingly localizing protocols time and again to suit the real situation on the ground and by promptly responding to valid complaints and grievances from citizens. As LGUs are slowly addressing concerns brought about by the pandemic, they are one in reminding the public that discipline and obedience are vital in winning this war.
Meanwhile, it must be noted that while Baguio is cautiously and slowly revitalizing its economy, regulations under the ECQ that were found effective are still being enforced, despite the city’s GCQ status. Perhaps this can serve as a model for other LGUs.
With the LGUs given the leeway to adopt localized GCQ protocols, the different Inter-Agency Task Forces on Covid-19 in the Cordillera would be in the best position to update guidelines that would protect communities in the highlands from the next wave of the contagion.
With the easing of restrictions, Cordillera provinces and cities must not put their guard down, as having a zero case of Covid-19 in the past two months in some areas in the region might give a false sense of security and will make the public defy protocols. With borders opening for visitors and tourists in the coming months, vigilance becomes even more imperative.
Again, there can be no sense of security until mass testing is carried out and until a vaccine for Covid-19 is commercially available.
But these obstacles will not dampen the indomitable Filipino spirit in the face of any adversity, especially for the frontliners and leaders, as they painstakingly prepare us – rather than give us a false sense of security – in keeping this invisible virus from winning over us.