EXTENDED QUARANTINE LIFTS WAR ON COVID-19
With the entire of Luzon entering the first month in quarantine that is extended to April 30, our original objective of containing the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 has become tougher and more crucial for us to win this battle with a fierce and faceless global adversary.
Right now, the country is still struggling with the increasing number of confirmed Covid-19 cases despite the initial national public health interventions put in place, and until we are able to do mass testing among other preparations and systems needed once the disease reaches its epidemic peak, every intervention possible that effectively stops virus transmission would make a difference.
The decision of Malacañang on April 7 to extend the enhanced community quarantine over Luzon may be hard to accept by many of us who were counting on things to get back to normal after having already been confined in our homes for almost a month now as a measure to contain the spread of the virus. The lockdown will allow further study of the disease and to buy the government time to improve public health response to the pandemic.
But there are communities in the Cordillera that prove us that difficult as it is, community quarantine works, and it is one of the draconian measures that should be done – as long as it takes – if we are to win against this global health crisis.
Since the first confirmed Covid-19 case in the region was recorded in Abra last month up to this week’s latest official data where Baguio City reported most of the positive cases, we take note of the absence of confirmed cases in Apayao, Ifugao, Kalinga, and Mountain Province.
Aside from strictly complying with national public health interventions, provincial health offices attribute the ability of some of these Cordillera communities to achieve and maintain a zero confirmed Covid-19 case record to innovations, as well as their indigenous practices, such as the tengaw or te-er, the time-tested version of community quarantine of Mountain Province; and similar village traditions in other Cordillera provinces, which so far are proving effective, even in dealing with a disease never before experienced.
Baguio, although bearing the highest number of Covid-19 cases in the region, so far has no new confirmed cases for more than a week now, due in part to the discipline of the general public especially in practicing social distancing and staying home except for necessities.
We believe it is something that the larger population or other local government units should consider adopting. As the city mayor puts it, there’s nothing wrong in duplicating best practices of others if it would mean stemming the pandemic.
We support the need to sustain such practices, and by this we also mean that everyone must keep our guards up and not to become complacent now, and even after we get past the worst of this crisis. For us, these odd times call for extraordinary measures, especially when human lives are at stake.
We could not disregard the wisdom and success rate of implementing community quarantine, especially when everyone complies, exemptions are not abused, and the vulnerable are well provided for. As we know it, this could be achieved when the government is competent and the public is cooperative.
In these difficult times, we find renewed resolve in the words of United Kingdom’s Queen Elizabeth, who in a rare speech shared widely on April 4 addressed to her governed – her only fourth during her 68-year reign – as it aptly described what it takes to battle this disease:
“Today, once again many will feel a painful sense of separation from their loved ones. But now, as then, we know deep down that it is the right thing to do.
While we have faced challenges before, this one is different. This time we join with all nations across the globe in a common endeavor, using the great advances and science and our instinctive passion to heal. We will succeed – and that success will belong to each and every one of us. We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return. We will be with our friends again, we will be with our families again, we will meet again.”