April 18, 2024

The President’s declaration of a public health emergency after the Department of Health confirmed local transmission of the Covid-19 was meant to increase public vigilance regarding how the disease is spread, not to drive people into paranoia.
But at the rate with how people hoard disinfectants, face masks, vitamins, ready-to-eat meals, and with how the public tend to believe misinformation rather than factual information from official sources, a more pressing concern now is addressing the panic borne out of misplaced fear and misinterpretation of facts.
When China first informed the World Health Organization in 2019 about the spike of cases of the then still unnamed disease, governments around the world heightened their preventive measures to reduce the risk of transmission of infectious diseases. Private organizations including legitimate media outlets followed this lead and did their part by sharing the right information about the disease.
It baffles us now that despite the facts regarding the Covid-19, we continue to hinge on false, exaggerated, and misleading information about the disease.
Health experts, the WHO, and our very own Department of Health has laid down the most basic rules to prevent the spread of any disease – maintain hygiene, practice respiratory etiquette, social distancing, observe self-quarantine when needed, eat well-cooked food, and seek medical consult once symptoms are felt.
While it is a normal human reaction to protect oneself especially when confronted with the possibility of acquiring an illness that has no known cure yet, the Covid-19 pandemic should not be reason to drive us all into frenzy by hoarding materials that do not even guarantee that we can be protected 100 percent.
The vulnerable such as the poor who do not even have enough to buy a kilo of rice, more so a bottle of alcohol, the sick and elderly who need more protection, and the frontliners in the fight versus the disease end up deprived of these essentials all because of greed and unfounded fear of a doomsday scenario.
We challenge all concerned agencies to work closely with the law enforcement agencies to cause the apprehension of these unscrupulous individuals, who hoard essential hygiene products, not for self-protection, but for profit through online selling.
Being vigilant against the disease is okay; to deprive others of essential products is not.
Reliable information about the Covid-19 is available anywhere. Let us refer to these and heed experts’ advice rather than believe in unfounded accounts and on opinions that aggravate our already volatile situation.
Let us also trust the government in how it is handling the situation. Experts on infectious diseases have already said that the Philippines is on the right track in terms of containment and surveillance. We may not have the most sophisticated gadgets but we are not lacking in experts – virologists, public health doctors, and epidemiologists who painstakingly explain to us that while there is no cure yet, the best protection is arming ourselves with the right information and practicing these in our homes and in our communities.
The Covid-19 has disrupted our day-to-day routine, is eating up a chunk of our financial resources, stigmatized families and communities, and threatens economies but this does not mean that we should lose our discernment and our humanity.
Amidst the global alert on the Covid-19, know that there are people working day and night just to develop a vaccine or a medicine to stall the spread or even kill the virus. It also helps if we turn into our spiritual side and earnestly pray for this crisis to end.
Instead of sowing fear, let us pray for the families of those who lost their love ones due to the Covid-19. They would have wanted to see and hold their love one for the last time but because the disease has prevented them from even going near someone close to them, let us let them know that in this time of sorrow, the world sympathizes with them in spirit.