"Let us not be weary of taking care of ourselves and putting health first before anything else."
As the country turned its focus on the forthcoming vaccination program, a new variant of coronavirus entered the country. This stirs fear and alarm anew among Filipinos. Just last week, we reached the half-a-million mark of confirmed COVID-19 cases. A few weeks from today, this pandemic will reach its anniversary, the only anniversary we refuse to celebrate.
Vaccines are reportedly under way. However, hospitals in certain areas such as Baguio City and Davao de Oro are already at critical level capacity. According to Secretary Duque, even health care facilities in the provinces of Nueva Vizcaya and Agusan Del Norte are slowly getting filled to the brim. Our health care workers are, no doubt, getting exhausted with the dangers and risks they face every day in taking care of patients who are afflicted and potentially afflicted with COVID-19. Soon, I fear, if the transmission is not prevented, we might be facing the same scenario we had early in 2020.
At this point, we are again at a crossroads in terms of transitioning into the new normal. However, I am pleased that the President revoked the IATF decision of allowing young people aged 10-14 to go out. While this may disrupt the country’s momentum on economic recovery, we cannot compromise the health and safety of our citizens, especially the younger population. Lest we forget, some vaccines do not authorize its use on kids below 16 to 18 years of age. These kids will have to remain protected from risks of exposure to COVID-19.
What now awaits us, apart from the vaccines? The government has redeployed contact tracers in areas where the UK variant has been detected. I trust that local government units continuously mobilize their contact-tracing teams to reach up to the third layer of contact of our confirmed cases. Meanwhile, I urge everyone, especially those who often go out of their homes for work or for supplies, to strictly comply with the contact tracing mechanisms put in place by the government. Contact tracing has been proven as one of the important tools in curbing community transmission. Given the more transmissible nature of this new variant, albeit no proven change in severity, I cannot emphasize further the importance of ensuring accurate information in contact tracing forms.
The Provincial Government of Quezon has been constantly reminding everyone to practice social distancing and to wear face masks in public places. Moreover, as mentioned in my previous article, we are preparing for the COVID-19 vaccination program of the government. Apart from the P1 billion allotted for the vaccines, the Quezon Provincial Government has recently met with chief officials of hospitals in the province in preparation for the vaccination. Soon, training will be conducted as to the administration of the vaccine to priority sectors. We hope to procure the vaccines at the earliest possible time.
As we hopefully move forward to national economic recovery and to a healthier population, I will not get tired of reminding everyone to adhere to the minimum public health standards and safety protocols. I urge people to refrain from mass gatherings, despite obtaining negative COVID-19 test results. Let us take advantage of technology in pursuing our enterprises and daily activities. The road to normalcy is still a long way to go. As the government does its best to get vaccines, let us decrease the risks by ensuring that we will not be remiss and careless in our moral duty to protect ourselves and others from this dreadful disease. Let us not be weary of taking care of ourselves and putting health first before anything else