Jullie Y. Daza

As James Bond says, “No time to die.” We’re all aging uniformly with each tick of the clock, at the same pace, the same rate, though in different ways. This is not the time to let our guard down. We’re losing more than 100 COVID-19 patients a day and the numbers aren’t showing a decline.

When the Delta variant almost nearly stopped us in our tracks a few months ago, how many of us would/could have imagined that the next bad news was the Omicron variant, more easily transmissible with a constellation (!) of variants – 32 mutations – and that it would strike Africa and Europe just as the First World began experiencing another wave of infections?

No, no time to lose, to waste. Keeping out Omicron, OMG, should be a national emergency; after all it’s a variant “of concern,” which is a nice way of muting those alarm bells ringing inside our heads. Hong Kong should be in the red list of inbound flights along with those seven African countries barred from landing here. HK’s 90 minutes away, the gateway to Asia and a very popular destination with Filipino expats and tourists. Shouldn’t we be just as or more strict and careful about letting HK travelers in? Remember how it took us one month – and how much it cost us! — to locate the honeymooning couple from Wuhan in the early days of the pandemic last year? This is a race against time.

Hong Kong may be in the list of yellow countries which allows their passengers to enter our borders by complying with tests, quarantines, and other procedures, but given the level and urgency of concern aired by WHO and the anxieties of the general public, this is no time to take anything for granted. Ironically, the holiday fever, the steady decline of new cases, the opening up of the economy could be masking an attitude of laissez-faire that our health system cannot afford, not at this time, beginning with our NTF watchdogs.

A new year has begun with the first Sunday of Advent, the first of four candles to be lighted to mark the season of hope. We hope because we’re afraid of the dark with time melting away in the shadows.