DOH urges public to adapt to ‘new normal’ amid COVID-19

Published October 14, 2020, 5:20 PM

by Analou De Vera 

The Department of Health (DOH) urged the public to adapt to the “new normal” to combat the spread of the COVID-19  amid the “pandemic fatigue.”

(JANSEN ROMERO / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

“We are all experiencing this pandemic fatigue, quarantine fatigue.  Alam natin na halos lahat ng ating kababayan gustong-gusto na bumalik na sa dati pero ang lagi nating pinapaalala, hindi na tayo babalik sa dati [We know that almost all of our countrymen really want to go back to how it was back then, but what we always remind, we will never go back to how it was before],” said DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire in an online forum Wednesday. 

Vergeire acknowledged that adherence to minimum health standards entails “sacrifice,” but noted that these protocols will help  protect the people from the threat of COVID-19. 

“Kaya nga may tawag tayo na new normal, na nagbibigay ng kasiguraduhan na kahit may virus dito sa ating environment [The new normal gives assurance that even if there is a virus here in our environment]—  we will still be protected if we are going to comply with these minimum health standards,” she said. 

Compliance with the health protocols will help in mitigating the spread of the infection especially that the government is gradually reopening the economy, Vergeire said. 

“As you gradually open economy, meron pong magkakaroon ng pagtaas ng mga kaso kung saka-sakali. That’s the expectation. Pero kung  tayo lahat ay magtulong-tulong and we can enforce compliance to these minimum health standards, hopefully hindi mangyayari sa atin itong ganito [As you gradually open the economy, there may be an increase in cases. That’s the expectation. But if we all work together and we can enforce compliance with these minimum health standards, hopefully, we can prevent this from happening],” she said. 

Vergeire said that the government is “very cautious” in opening up the country’s economy. 

“Unti-unti nating binubuksan, binabalanse natin, pinag aaralan bago makapagbukas ng  mga sectors of society to prevent this kind of situation from happening in the country [We are gradually opening (the economy), while  balancing and studying {the factors) before we open a sector of society to prevent this kind of situation from happening in the country], she said.

To note, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that “pandemic fatigue” is being observed in Europe, wherein people feel less motivated and apathetic. 

“Amidst this protracted public health emergency, one that has forced people to live with uncertainty and disruption for many months, these levels of fatigue are to be expected,” the WHO said in a statement.

Granular lockdowns

In a related development, Vergeire said that the different local government units have an authority to impose granular lockdowns if they observe an increasing trend of cases in their areas of jurisdiction. 

The imposition of such measures is not just for the government’s Interagency Task Force on Emerging infectious Disease (IATF-EID) to decide. 

“Binigyan natin ng authority ang local government units so that they can do their granular lockdowns if ever they would see that their cases are rising at kung sakali nakikita nila na nahihirapan makaagapay ang kanilang health system [We have given authority to local government units so that they can do their granular lockdowns if ever they would see that their cases are rising and if their health system is struggling to cope up],” said Vergeire. 

To note, researchers from the University of the Philippines urged the government to impose stricter quarantine measures in Bauan, Batangas; Calbayog, Western Samar; and General Trias, Cavite.

 
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