"EXPECTING THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL"
By: Andrew-Thon M Tuliao and Rommel K Manwong
Area: Social Science, Applied Criminology, Health and Safety, Security Management
The world is currently facing a life-threatening disease called coronavirus (COVID-19). The said disease spread quickly from person to person and now from country to country. More than a million cases of the disease have been confirmed worldwide in less than five months as of April 2020. At least a million people have been infected globally with more than 50,000 deaths caused by the virus from 180 countries.
People are now at risk from this infectious disease as it speedily spread around the world and the number of confirmed cases continuously rising. The situation even made an already devastating impact on global health, infrastructures as well as the economy and society.
Like other countries, the Philippines is also struggling with the pandemic. For this reason, the government declared an Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ). The primary purpose is to lessen the spreading of the virus. But as time goes by, still many Filipinos are being infected day by day. By April 12, 2020 confirmed cases were 4,648, with 297 deaths and 197 recoveries. As of April 21, 2020, the Health Department reported that confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country rose to 6,599; number of fatalities at 437 and the number of recoveries at 654. These figures speak on how lethal is the pandemic.
With the current situation where the ECQ is firmly in place, there remains some violators of quarantine protocols. Broadly speaking, these violators are mostly from the poor urban communities. The ECQ triggered stubbornness of the people. Some were furious, and they use social media to express their anger. But the government maintained its stand, to do its best to fight the pandemic, even though in the eyes of the few, such ECQ was not necessary. This problem is systemic in our society. We always oppose the government, but not doing much from our end for the sake of the country.
The pandemic is not our enemy. The government is not our enemy. Ourselves, our attitude is our true enemy. We are our own enemy within. We hardly lack the thing we needed to cure our problem – our discipline, our manners. We always complain, demand and argue, even if, for all reasons we know the answers – a clear showcase of a decay in our cultural and behavioral inheritance.
So now, it is vitally important for us to realize that most people do not understand what is meant by ECQ or even the easier concept of a total lockdown. We need to educate them that ECQ or lockdown does not mean to exterminate the virus but rather to slow down its movement. We need to explain to them that flattening the curve means slowing down the disease so that our health system will not be bogged down, and so we could be able to buy some time to cope with those already infected and sick. We also need to enlighten them that lifting the ECQ does not mean we all get back to life as normal. While this is what most people think, the true picture is that there is no such thing as “normal” after COVID-19. It will totally change our mindsets, heart-sets, the platforms we used to do and many other aspects of life. We have to tell people that we are going to have a “new normal”.
We also have to express that as per projection by experts, within the year, even until mid-next year, the disease will remain unless a vaccine is found. But scientists have said that a vaccine needs at least 18 to 24 months process, that includes the making, testing and assessing its effectiveness and value. Vaccines needs a lot of tests and will take between 5 years to 15 years to perfection. With the current situation, the projected peak on August could be extended to September or October.
We need to accept and be ready that the world economy will sink down. That some businesses will close and our tourism, travel and hospitality industry will continue to suffer more because people will remain into self-isolation. Even if the lockdown and travel ban are lifted, many will still feel the fear of infection until a cure is available.
Let us understand that every government is doing what it can to stand still. Our government is doing its best. In recognition, our progress is even better than other developed countries. But even then, we remain uncertain. So, we should continue keeping ourselves safe, helping others to do the same, and supporting government efforts. The only powerful things we have now are faith and hope. With self-discipline, we shall heal as one. The light is expected at the end of the tunnel.