For several days in a row, the number of those testing positive for COVID-19 has breached 3,000 per day. As of press time Sunday, there have been more than 594,000 cases across the country, with more than 12,000 deaths.
Once again, we are brought back to earlier days of the pandemic when hospital units are overwhelmed, and when doctors, nurses and other frontliners feel helpless against the virus. We are told that newer, more transmissible variants of the virus are responsible for the spike in new cases.
That the number of mild and asymptomatic cases comprises nearly 95 percent of the total, as the Department of Health tells us, is hardly a source of comfort.
This resurgence coincides with the start of the vaccine rollout for medical frontliners. The first shipment of the vaccines arrived a week ago; it was promptly distributed to those among the priority list of recipients across the country.
This should be a time to start feeling hopeful—did we not wait for the development of a vaccine as a signal that we could at least imagine a life akin to what we had before the virus came to our shores? Initial and persistent glitches in the arrival of the doses notwithstanding, we are at least moving forward in ensuring that fewer among our people would contract the virus or display severe symptoms.
Hearing about the past few days’ surge, however, curbs our optimism. But more than prompting us to get scared again and driving us back into confinement—despite its damaging effects on the economy—this resurgence should make us examine our habits so we can temper our fears.
Establishments have gradually reopened and some economic activity has been restored. Some travel has been allowed and even encouraged. All these, just so businesses would not close and employees would not lose their jobs. We do not need to revert to last year’s closures, but we need to look at how we and the people around us practice the still-crucial health protocols even as we participate in bringing the economy back to life.
People have to be made to understand that following basic protocol—wearing masks and shields, keeping physical distance, avoiding shouting or talking loudly in public, and frequently washing or sanitizing one’s hands—is not a matter of complying with regulation. They do not have to fear being called out or caught. Instead, they should religiously observe these as a way of protecting themselves and their families, and of being considerate to other people. They do not have to be watched by cops or beaten—figuratively, of course—into submission. If they want to protect themselves and others, then bearing these inconveniences would be a small sacrifice. It’s less enforcement and more common courtesy.
We have been living like this for close to a year already, and it is understandable that Filipinos might feel impatient about going back to our pre-pandemic ways. But having the right mindset about the virus could spell the difference between contracting it and steering clear of it.
This is a task that falls on the heads of communities, organizations, and families. The fight against COVID-19 should be over soon, but we need to be mindful of our actions for just a little longer. When we finally realize that making small sacrifices makes a big difference—that is when we will have truly beaten this deadly virus.