Maintain social distancing even after April 30

Published April 9, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin


Social distancing works.  In the last  three weeks or so, people have learned to distance themselves from  one another,  while wearing face masks to keep out any stray virus in the air. They have also stayed home, except for the most urgent needs such as buying needed groceries.

In  just  a few more days, the month-long “enhanced community quarantine” or lockdown  imposed by the government on  Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon will end,   but  a modified lockdown  will  remain  in place until April 30, with  some restrictions lifted to allow easier delivery of food and other basic  goods to markets.

People have  accepted  the value of social distancing  but when the lockdown ends, there will be a problem  when it comes  to the crowds  that  normally jam  the coaches of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and  the  Light Rail Transit (LRT). A way must  be  found  to  avoid the massing  of so many people, perhaps  by increasing  the number of coaches in each train or increasing the number of trips a day. Or the private establishments  where  most  people work can be persuaded to vary their working schedules.

There have been only a few new cases of COVID-19 infections in the last few days. , Secretary of Health  Francisco Duque III  said that as of last Tuesday, 177 had died while 84 recovered in  the country.

In Europe, Spain, the new epicenter of the pandemic in Europe,  reported 743 deaths overnight,  for a new total of 13,798 fatalities out of 140,510 cases.  Much  closer  to us, Japan declared a state of emergency as the number of  reported infections doubled in Tokyo. Nationwide COVID-19 cases  passed 4,000 with 93 deaths.

In the United States,  the number of deaths  exceeded 10,000,  with New York City reporting  200 to 215 deaths  a day.  It is only now that 97 percent  of  the US has been placed  under quarantine and the national government  has  recommended  the voluntary use of face masks.

The social distancing which we have been practicing in Metro Manila and the rest  of Luzon these last three weeks is only now  gaining support in the US.  We have been using face masks all this time. The US national  government  recommended the use of face masks on  April 3,  but President  Donald  Trump said he himself would not wear one.

Social distancing has obviously  worked  for  us  during the last three weeks  that we were under enhanced community quarantine.  It  started as a government  requirement,  but  it is now  being practiced  by most people  on their own, knowing that it can help  protect  them from  the virus.

Even after the end of the extended  quarantine  on  April 30, social distancing should continue to  be observed by people on their  own.  It  has helped  limit the spread of COVID-19.  It will help prevent any resurgence  of the epidemic, as some viruses in the past have done when people  quickly returned to their old easy ways.