This time it’s fear that’s fueling the surges.
Fear is good if it keeps parents from taking their tykes out for a walk in the park along with 20,000 other people. Fear is good if it pulls us back from going out for the sake of going out. Fear is good if it keeps us away from a hospital.
The experts say they don’t know enough about the Omicron variant as yet. But very early on, before we learned about Alpha, Beta, Lambda, and Delta, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s medical correspondent, was showing how one person sitting at a table with two others in a restaurant could easily infect nine other people in the restaurant.
Two years later, experts warn about Omicron’s power to infect multiple others. The numbers are mind-boggling. In the US, one million cases in one day, Jan. 4, and in France, 200,000; most infections blamed on the current variant. Our 5,000-plus cases on the same day sounded like a miracle – until we realized that our DOH data are far from close, we’re not in the habit of testing ourselves, we hide from the barangay health worker the same way we hide from the facts of life.
The Christmas break did not put a brake to our bad habits but exacerbated them, leading to the post-New Year’s Day surges. More and more people lining up, waiting to be swabbed and tested in private clinics, the results now taking more time than before. An unexpected spurt in the demand for paracetamol and cold medicines. Three provinces – Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal – dragged into Metro Manila’s Alert Level 3 net. A flurry of signs sprouting everywhere, “No vax, no entry.” On the plus side, “a new epidemic of the unvaccinated” changing their minds overnight, crowding the vax sites for their first dose. Indeed, fear is good.
It’s easy to dismiss flu symptoms as non-COVID related. When my daughter Penny heard a sore throat in my voice, she told me to get tested a.s.a.p. I didn’t follow her advice, not until I heard a specialist in infectious diseases say the same thing on TV. “Why did you believe the doctor and not me?” Penny asked. I said, “Because you’re an expert in self-medication, without a license.”