By JULLIE Y. DAZA
Add my name to the expanding list of admirers of DOH Undersecretary Ma. Rosario Vergeire, MD, who has been daily, regularly updating an anxious public on what they need to know and need not fear about COVID-19. We need more public officials like her – confident, competent, technically proficient, but imbued with that rarest of virtues, common sense, and an easy ability to teach and communicate without talking down to her audience.
At a time when we need to thank our ground-zero heroes and martyrs, including three doctors and one policeman who have died in the line of duty, having a Dr. Vergeire in our midst, assuring and reassuring us with her calming presence that here’s someone we can listen to, is a gift indeed. Her credentials are impressive, from medical and scientific research to data analysis and whatever it is that doctors in public health are expected to do. Her screen image is serious but not stern. Without minimizing the problem, her words are simple and well-chosen to convey clarity and empathy. Thank you, Health Secretary Francisco Duque – or is it President Duterte? – you could not have appointed a more capable, trustworthy doctor-communicator.
Halfway around the world, Dr. David Ho, Columbia University professor of medicine, tells CNN he is “extremely worried” for India, South America, and Africa because these countries are not immune should the scourge hit them “weeks later,” considering their large populations.
Dr. Ho looks at the fast-spreading 2019 novel coronavirus as the “tip of a massive iceberg,” one that is not likely to be wiped out by summer, sometime around June. The virus, he warns, has taken a “strong foothold in the South,” Australia and Argentina, where the situation might be similar to the flu, “jumping north to south” and becoming “a fact of life until scientific research” gives us the good news of a vaccine.
The tip of the iceberg could not get more slippery. Every 10 minutes, reports Christiane Amanpour, an Iranian dies; it’s become so critical that the government had to free 10,000 prisoners.
In Italy, which has surpassed China’s death toll, crematoriums are totally overwhelmed. Luckily, China has reported no new local transmissions. Italy, China, Iran: what in the world can we learn from their harrowing experiences? ##