SURVIVING THE RAGING COVID-19 INFECTIONS
Supposedly by this time, communities around the world are already getting used to the new normal way of life that has been forced upon us by the highly infectious novel virus, more than a year after the pandemic started.
However, recovery plans and measures so that people will be able to live safely with the Covid-19 are being obliterated by our failure to stem the increasing number of people getting infected, with the OCTA Research Group projecting one million cases by the end of April in the Philippines, which makes us wonder how much more strict or desperate our transmission prevention measures should be, and how much longer should people be told to stay put and endure lockdowns and restrictions.
The long-term benefits of the ongoing vaccination, which remains the only way to contain Covid cases or at least prevent severe cases and deaths when one contracts the virus, are also being rendered useless because what is happening now is rather the opposite. The situation is getting worse by the day since the national government started the vaccination program with our health frontliners in March.
We now have the World Health Organization worrying about the country’s steadily increasing cases, with the Philippines recording the highest number of new cases and fatalities in the Western Pacific Region recently,and warning us about crossing the “red line” as it will exceed the capacity of health care.
The WHO said crossing the red line is putting “healthcare workers in a difficult situation” and once they start getting the infection, “the healthcare capacity goes down.”
We now have crossed the line, based on reports of overwhelmed hospitals and isolation facilities at the National Capital Region and its nearby cities and provinces resulting in deaths of some Covid patients in the streets while waiting for a hospital room to become available. Lives were lost without a fighting chance, and it was only then when some local government units decided to put up temporary holding areas to serve as an emergency room extension.
It is unthinkable, but it is happening, and it alarms us more after primary hospitals in the Cordillera, particularly in Baguio City and Benguet, have announced their Covid-19 facilities are already full as of early last week since the region continues to record high case surge to date.
With Covid-19 being a novel phenomenon for everyone, we have learned to expect for the worst. It should not be impossible to overcome it, but our attitude of belittling the virus and knowing what to do but neglecting the guidelines is pulling all our prevention efforts down the drain. We knew what was to come but some leaders dilly-dallied in their preparedness and contingency plans. People lack consistency in practicing the basics.
The factors that have been causing the current surge as identified by the Department of Health and WHO are nothing new: the emergence of new variants from the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the people’s lack of compliance to non-pharmaceutical interventions like minimum health protocols; and increased mobility.
This is true for others as most countries are also currently struggling with increasing Covid cases, but our country has been under quarantine for more than a year, still the longest in the world, yet the infection did not slow down at the least. We are not saying it was wrong to adopt lockdowns or quarantines as a strategy, but we should see by now we are failing to implement it effectively.
Simply put, we are failing in striking a balance between the need to protect public health and the need to restart the economy because we lack discipline and we saw the vaccine as a way to be complacent by foregoing the minimum health protocols.
In stemming the surge, we believe the focus should be on consistent, extensive tracing of contacts of positive cases, and longer monitoring and isolation time to assure complete recovery. While we agree and support having more Covid-19 facilities as the WHO urges the country to do, such need would only become an unending process if we keep on having new cases.
Hope in surviving the pandemic still lies in our strict compliance to regulations and in faithful practice of the minimum health protocols. While restrictions are supposed to be temporary, we have to endure it often if we don’t make the bare minimum a way of life.