By ERIK ESPINA
What was the policy basis for the recommendation of the original one-month Luzon lock-down? The separate observance of ECQs (enhanced community quarantines) in Luzon vis-à-vis Visayas and Mindanao subject to respective LGUs? Recalling first events, there was no validated sampling of a national cross-section — persons with COVID-19 serious, mild, and asymptomatic (monitored and under investigation), plus, potential hot spots configured on urban density levels. We did not possess ample testing kits at the time, to graph scientific models for C-19 surges, trajectory, peaking, and plateauing, broken into quarters. However evident, in the initial stages, was how infectious and deadly the flu-like disease was. Were we copying the one-month medical protocols abroad, finding ourselves in unchartered waters? Or would it have made more sense to err on the side of caution, rather than risking the lives of our people. given no working data? Under said thinking, should we have declared a 6 to 8 month lockdown instead? A simultaneous national lockdown?
The one-month lock-down gave our people and sectors of society, a “vacation mentality.” It was a brief interlude in our normal lives. The seriousness of a pandemic reality did not find traction, due to conscious mis-appreciation and social denial of a national emergency/crisis defined in 30 days! Had we announced a 6-8-month lock-down, likely, the urgency of a critical environment would have sunk into the psychology of our people. The rate of compliance could have risen with the prospect, if numbers flattened, ECQ duration shortened subject to the people’s cooperation. High-value sectors, e.g. education, manufacturing, construction, utilities, banks, church, legislature judiciary, Comelec, etc., could plan ahead adopting pro-active protocols for new and lengthened realities.