EDITORIAL - Front line attack
(The Freeman) - March 31, 2020 - 12:00am

It is trying times like these that tend to give rise to irrational fears. The claustrophobia from being restricted to one’s own home, the anxiety of not knowing when things will be back to normal, that plus the fear of becoming infected with the virus, are enough to make some people desperate.

As a result they are quick to lash out at or marginalize others whom they perceive to be causing their problems or pose a threat to their well-being.

It happened during the Black Plague and other pestilences that swept across the medieval world, and it is happening right now. Unfortunately in today’s modern version of the plague, some people are targeting the wrong people; those whom we call frontliners. Those who work in hospitals and those in constant risk of contracting COVID-19.

In earlier reports they were just turned away at checkpoints, refused service in eateries, or evicted from rented rooms. However, it seems that the ostracism has escalated, with several reported attacks on medical personnel.

In one report a nurse was splashed with bleach by five men in Sultan Kudarat, in another report, a medical worker was also splashed with bleach by two men on a motorcycle here in Cebu City. For sure there are other incidents that were not reported.

The Department of Health has expressed alarm over the incidents.

“These acts cannot be tolerated. We are mobilizing our own personnel in efforts to ascertain more details and hold perpetrators of these attacks liable and reporting these incidents to the Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19 for proper investigation and resolution,” the department was quoted as saying.

Shame on those who attack, harass, or discriminate against medical personnel whether they do it for fun, to relieve their frustrations, or even if they think in some twisted way that they are helping stop the spread of the virus.

Perhaps they don’t realize that we have a serious lack of personnel who can handle people suspected of having COVID-19 or patients already confirmed with it. If frontliners and other medical personnel become too afraid to do their jobs because of the discrimination they face, who will take over? Those who have nothing better to do than splash bleach on people?

It should be said that most of us have the easy part of this crisis; we just get to stay home and take it easy. Medical personnel are out there risking everything, usually for someone they don’t even know.

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