Opinion

Don't waste 9 months

Don't waste 9 months

The OCTA Research team is warning of a spike in COVID cases after the Christmas holidays. In fact the Department of Health is already recording an increase in cases, as people ignore basic health protocols for preventing coronavirus transmission during the holiday rush.

In the early months of the pandemic, as people endured stringent restrictions, the objective was to flatten the transmission curve. This is starting to be achieved, but cases can again rise steeply amid the crowding in commercial areas such as Divisoria and in certain churches especially for the Simbang Gabi.

Some experts are even questioning the flattening of the curve. They wonder if people with mild symptoms are simply less inclined to get themselves tested – because of the high cost of the swab test, the loss of income during quarantine, and the possibility that the entire household will suffer discrimination.

Not all people who catch COVID, however, have mild or no symptoms. Many have required hospitalization and intubation, and as of yesterday, 8,947 people in the Philippines had succumbed to COVID-19. If these serious cases rise, it could overwhelm the country’s healthcare facilities.

A spike could also lead to lockdowns after Christmas. Officials in charge of the pandemic response have said there will be no return to the strictest quarantine status for Metro Manila, which can strangle an already battered economy. But several local government units have imposed granular lockdowns of villages and streets that register a spike in infections. In Quezon City, a compound was placed under “special concern” lockdown after at least 10 people who attended a birthday party tested positive for COVID.

Vaccines are now being rolled out, and the times call for a little more patience in complying with basic health protocols to contain the pandemic: wear face mask and shield, observe physical distancing, wash and disinfect hands regularly. These are just mild inconveniences compared with the life-threatening risk if infected with the coronavirus. The country has already sacrificed so much for over nine months. It would be tragic if those sacrifices go to waste, and Christmas celebration turns to mourning.