‘Each individual has a role to play’

Published August 6, 2020, 10:58 PM

by Manila Bulletin

Now that  Metro Manila and Calabarzon have  been reverted to the  status of Modified  Enhanced Community Quarantine  (MECQ), the second most stringent  of the government’s  pandemic restrictions,  people have to go back to the time  when  they  were generally expected to stay at home, except  for the most urgent reasons such as to buy food.

Only a maximum  of five was allowed for mass gatherings.  There was no public transport—no MRT, no buses or jeepneys, no interisland  travel, no domestic flights. Biking and non-motorized  transport were  encouraged.   Some businesses and industries were allowed to operate but with no more than 50 percent of their employees  on site, the rest   to work at home.

Many recently opened businesses will  have to close down again, the Department  of Trade and Industry said.  These include dine-in restaurants, barber shops,  salons and gyms,  Internet  cafes,  and tourist  destinations like beaches and resorts.  People  below 21 and those  60 and above are not  allowed  to leave  the house,  along with  those with immune deficiency,  those with  health risks, and  pregnant women

It could have been worse. The nation’s hospital  workers – doctors, nurses, med techs – had asked for  a return to the original Enhanced  Community Quarantine (ECQ) – to give them,  they said,  a “time-out”  as they were already “burnt out with seemingly endless  numbers  of patients  trooping to our hospitals for emergency care and admission.”

President  Duterte  instead ordered a return  to the  less stringent  Modified ECQ  (MECQ)  —  a  compromise  between  the  frontllners’  request and  the reality that the country cannot afford  to stop all  business  and office activity  once again . And the govenment cannot give anymore handouts  to  people  deprived of  work and income.

The return to MECQ should help bring down the  number  of cases seeking admission to hospitals.  It  should  help ease the burden on the doctors, nurses, and oher hospital workers.  We hope to see fewer  cases of COVID-19 as the government  resumes its restrictions on  people’s movements.

But  the factories and other businesses already allowed to partly reopen will continue to operate. Bangko Sentral  ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno said he expects the  economic impact of these recent developments to  be limited.

 “Each individual has a role to play in mitigating the adverse effect of the crisis on the loss of lives,  jobs, and livelihoods,” he said.  Considering his field  of concern as head of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, he must have been thinking primarily of  what  each person can do for the nation’s  economic recovery from the difficulties and restrictions  of  these  last  five months.

His words  should  be taken to heart by  everyone  in  dealing with the pandemic  itself,  not just its  economic  ill effects.  COVID-19   continues  to spread because people do not follow basic health instructions. Some people continue to gather as they  used  to,  carry on with their old  activities with others, ignoring requirements  to wear face masks, maintain proper distances, and thoroughly wash their  hands.  They are the ones who account for the growing number  of infections  and deaths in the country today.

“Each individual has a role to play,” Governor  Diokno  said.  The day  each one of us accepts this role, the statistics of the Department of Health will  cease rising, the heavy burden on hospital frontliners will ease, and   COVID-19 will cease to be a problem for our nation.