False sense of security
The country can no longer afford to revert to more stringent lockdowns, according to the government. The statement was issued as the Department of Health monitored a spike in COVID cases in recent days, particularly in Metro Manila where the new and more infectious variants of the coronavirus have been reported.
While the National Capital Region may not revert to a stricter quarantine status, however, granular lockdowns are possible, as Pasay City is now doing in scores of barangays where COVID cases are on the rise. The city is also where the first cases of the COVID variants have been reported in the NCR. Under granular lockdown, residents are placed under the tightest restrictions. Who wants this, after a year of quarantines?
The choice, however, boils down to such localized lockdowns or catching COVID – particularly the more infectious variants – and suffering hospitalization or the worst fate. Such possibilities should persuade people to maintain health safety protocols that by now should be ingrained: wearing of masks and even face shields, maintaining physical distancing, practicing hand hygiene and observing cold/cough etiquette. The government, for its part, must continue ramping up testing, contact tracing and treatment capabilities.
Health authorities are still studying the possible causes of the rise in COVID cases, after many weeks of flat transmission in the NCR, which remains the epicenter of the pestilence. There are also worrisome reports of COVID survivors getting seriously infected again even in the Philippines, but more so in Brazil where one of the two infectious coronavirus variants was first reported.
This pandemic is far from over; many more people will get sick, and many will die. The biggest danger as vaccination finally begins is that people will be lulled into a false sense of security. Already, the clamor for further easing of restrictions is growing stronger as more vaccines arrive.
While the economy needs to be taken out of the intensive care unit, this will not happen when people are sick, especially with more infectious mutations of COVID spreading in Metro Manila. The start of vaccination should be accompanied by sustained adherence to all the health protocols. Otherwise, all the sacrifices in the past year will go to waste.