7,103 COVID cases on March 19

Published March 22, 2021, 12:12 AM

by Atty. Gregorio Larrazabal


Atty. Gregorio Larrazabal

Just recently, Japan and the UK announced that there was a new strain that they detected in their country.  They found this in people who travelled from the Philippines. The new virus variant is now called the Philippine variant.  We join the UK, South Africa, Brazil and USA where new variants of the virus emerged from.

When I talked with some doctors, they told me that a variant of the virus from the Philippines was almost inevitable, considering the number of cases, and the way the virus had spread to almost all parts of the country, affecting in the process Filipinos who are not healthy.

Based on data and forecasts, it looks like it’s even going to get worse.  Last Friday, there were 7,103 new cases reported.  That’s almost the same number of islands of the country (depending on low tide or high tide).  The trend is on an upswing too, with over 4,000 new cases reported daily in the last seven days.  As equally scary as the rising number of cases, is the infection rate.  Back in January, it appears the infection rate was about 5.5 percent.  It went up to a little over 6 percent in mid-February.  But last March 19, the infection rate was 15 percent.  Many doctors fear that with Holy Week coming up, and many already going out and taking more vacations, there’ll be another wave in the surge in infections.

Unfortunately, while other countries are rolling out vaccines, we’re still rolling out faceshields.  We’re the only country in the world that requires faceshields for the general population, yet we’re one of the countries with a dismal performance.  You have to ask why are we stuck with many policies that don’t seem to be grounded in science?

It’s good though that some vaccines have arrived.  The limited number of vaccines being distributed now are donations, with the WHO announcing that priority for the Philippines is because of the rising number of cases in the Philippines.  With the limited number of vaccines still available, decision of the President to allocate all vaccines currently in the Philippines as a first dose, is a very good decision. I hope the country will be able to procure enough vaccines in time to give as second doses.

The Philippines can’t anymore afford a hard lockdown (or whatever name it will be given).  But opening up the economy safely and with sufficient health protocols is what’s needed.  I hope policy makers consult the doctors and scientists.  Officials should PRIVATELY talk among themselves, sufficiently discuss policies, develop a communication plan, then inform the public.  Stop the practice of announcing a plan or policy, then within 24 hours, change the policy after the reaction of the public, then change, again, the policy a short while after.

Stay Safe.  Stay Healthy.  Wear a mask.  Register as a voter.