A reminder that COVID-19 is still here

BAR NONE - Atty. Ian Vincent Manticajon - The Freeman

I am writing this in between breaks during the three-day National Legal Summit organized by the Supreme Court which opened yesterday at the L’Fisher Hotel in Bacolod.

With the title “Reimagining the Art of Legal Empowerment: A National Summit on Access to Justice through Cultivating Approaches on Legal Aid”, the summit focuses on developing a roadmap to amplify, provide, and sustain avenues of access towards the constitutional guarantee of adequate legal assistance.

I could count over 200 delegates in attendance, composed of members and other stakeholders of the legal profession all over the country, led by Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo and other Supreme Court officials. I’ll share the pertinent discussions and collective recommendations of the summit in my next column on Saturday after the summit shall have been concluded on Wednesday, November 30.

Meanwhile, let me share with you what this conference has reminded me about COVID-19 being still very much a part of our reality especially in gatherings attended by VIPs. At first I thought the organizers only required proof of vaccination to attend the event. I then learned a bit too late that all delegates are required to take a COVID-19 antigen test within 48 hours prior to the summit.

By then there was barely enough time for me to get an antigen test in a DOH-accredited facility prior to my flight to Bacolod last Sunday. I had to take the risk of getting that rapid antigen test at the hotel venue in Bacolod the day before the summit’s opening.

Imagine the relief of knowing a few minutes later that your test turned out negative. I had my second Pfizer booster shot this month and have been masking most of the time, yet any small chance of testing positive and being barred from entering the summit venue agitated me a bit; moreso the possibility of being isolated and “detained” in a quarantine hotel in a place away from home.

Let me take this occasion to encourage everyone to get their booster doses against COVID-19 if they still not have received any. At the Robinsons Galleria mall in Cebu City where I received my second booster dose, I saw no other person waiting to be vaccinated in the short time I was there. “Gilangaw ang venue!” so to speak in the vernacular.

Health workers in the vaccination center asked me to encourage friends, family, and colleagues to have their primary vaccination or booster shots as soon as possible. So let me use whatever influence I may have in this column to urge everyone to get their booster shots, and to reassure you that it’s safe and will take just a few minutes of your time.

We are in a way fortunate that our government has already relaxed pandemic public health protocols in order to give our economy as much breathing space as possible. We have learned to live with COVID-19 together with the rest of the world. So the least we could do as citizens is to do our part by getting those booster shots and wearing a mask when necessary.

In China, where national pride and President Xi Jinping’s politics apparently take precedence over science and practicalities, protests have erupted across the country over the government’s zero-COVID policy. Up to now I still could not understand why China still has not imported the highly effective mRNA vaccines from the West.

The news from Reuters last month was that the Chinese government demanded that Moderna hand over the recipe for its mRNA vaccine as a prerequisite to enter the Chinese market. Moderna naturally refused.


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