COVID likely to worsen before getting better

INTROSPECTIVE - Tony F. Katigbak - The Philippine Star

In a fight where time is a key factor of success, it looks like we are slowly and continuously losing. Each day and week that passes where we are not aggressively implementing protocols and finding solutions to the overrun of the hospitals is just another day or week that the virus is winning. At this point, we need more than half-measures for things to improve.

But I think the government knows that. The President was certainly forthright when he said that the worst isn’t over and that many more people would get sick and die. It’s impossible not to feel the same these days when we read the news or go through social media. COVID battles are being fought left and right, and a lot of people aren’t coming out of the fight alive.

Which makes many wonder, how we are now in MECQ considering our numbers are still in the 10,000s and above. Certainly, health professionals think it’s a bad idea. They are overworked, stressed, and scared and it doesn’t look like there will be any reprieve any time soon. Hospitals are still full to overflowing, so it begs the question – how can we safely begin opening up again?

The short answer is most likely that we can’t afford to keep ECQ in place for as long as we need it to make a bit of a dent in the numbers. Traditionally, a bare minimum of one month ECQ is required to make a significant impact on the numbers. But unfortunately, without any massive ayuda plan, one month is just not possible for many underprivileged Filipinos who rely on daily wages to be able to put food on the table.

They are definitely the hardest hit by the pandemic and by this surge in new cases and new variants. And sadly, that is not going to change any time soon. These same communities face challenges to social distancing as they are all so close to one another and can’t necessarily afford to “live healthy” as many others are recommending. When you are struggling to eat even a basic meal during the day, you usually aren’t able to invest in vitamins, time to exercise, and time to rest. All of that is a luxury.

What I think is important to remember – for everyone – is that while we may all be battling this fight together, we aren’t all on equal footing. Or as they say – we may be in the same storm, but we aren’t in the same boat. And it’s at this time that those who are in a better position must help those who are not.

It gets tiresome to say, but we need to keep up the safety protocols. Even with more people getting vaccinated, vaccines don’t prevent the spread of COVID. We need to wear masks, sanitize, social distance, and most of all – stay home. Those who can work from home must continue to do so, especially for those who can’t.

However, I wrote previously that this is not going to be enough to keep everyone safe, and sadly this is true. We have seen how deadly the new variants are in terms of spreading and how fast they can get around. The old safety protocols are just not going to cut it. We need to add new measures and be even more vigilant if we want to start seeing some victories in the coronavirus fight.

Someone told me that a good mind frame to espouse is to assume that you are already an asymptomatic carrier and thus need to take all the pertinent steps to protect those around you from infection. If we exert that level of caution, we will be far more careful about where we go and who we expose.

Considering how quickly the virus is spreading, it’s not a far-fetched idea to assume that there are far more carriers out there than before, and acting as one and assuming everyone else is one might make folks more cautious about mask-wearing and social distancing. This type of community protection is needed now more than ever.

We can only get through this together. That can’t be stressed enough. We need to be more cognizant of that if we want to make a difference.

*     *     *

Congratulations to San Miguel Corp (SMC)’s official new chief executive officer, Ramon Ang, who adds this new position to his roster of titles after a recently held meeting of the company’s board of directors. The business tycoon has already long held the position of president and chief operating officer of SMC and this has, indeed, been a long time coming.

Ang has been such a phenomenal positive driving force behind SMC and its numerous subsidiaries for years. During the pandemic, he initiated several exemplary efforts to help those in need, including the nutribun project, tying up with the Department of Agriculture to help farmers sell their produce, meals and shelter for workers who could not get home, setting up COVID testing centers, donating much-needed medical materials, and much more.

It’s welcome news to see that Ang has made the natural transition to CEO. There’s no doubt he will continue to drive incredible accomplishments for the company while doing what he can to help the Filipino people.

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