Back to Square ZERO

The Philippines recently passed the first anniversary of its lockdown earlier this month.  Now, a year hence, the situation is at its worst so far.

Things were starting to look good from September 16, 2020, when daily cases started to decline from a 7–day average of 3,970 new cases to 1,269 by January 09, 2021.  With the vaccines getting approved for public use, I was actually looking forward to things getting back to “normal” in the succeeding months.  But out of nowhere, things started to fall apart and cases skyrocketed to all-time highs.  As of March 24, 2021, the 7-day average is at 6,619 new cases.  Friends from the healthcare sector are sharing the dire situation on the front lines as beds run out along with medical supplies.  We’re now at our worst!

Screenshot taken March 24, 2021 via google.com.

And comparing our situation with the rest of the region, we’re the only one at the peak of new daily cases.  Everyone else is now on their downturn.

Screenshot taken March 24, 2014 via ourworldindata.org.

And now, Metro Manila is back to a stricter lockdown. Businesses and services (what remained of them) will be disrupted again—just as we’ve started picking up the pieces from the worst economic collapse of the country since records started in 1947*—the worst GDP contraction in all of Southeast Asia in 2020 at -9.5%. And as of March 24, 2021, only donated vaccines have reached the country and only those procured by the private sector and donations are expected to arrive. And aside from politicians, their relatives, influential people, and medical front liners, there’s hardly any supply left to go around the priority list, let alone the rest of the population.

Philippine GDP for 2020 (at the bottom) compared with the region.

I’m just really sad that it has come to this.  The momentum we acquired towards the fourth quarter of last year had been totally wiped out and now at our worst.  Just as when the vaccines are coming out!  Just as when we’re seeing signs of recovery!

I’m writing this post to appeal to everyone to follow the health protocols and avoid non-essential travel.  Please continue wearing your masks and wear them properly at all times when in public!  Same goes with face shields as even though we’re probably the only country in the world that imposes public use of them, they do add a layer of protection.  I’ve witnessed first hand how negligent many people have become in public like failure to wear their masks and shields properly, observe physical distancing, mass gathering, etc. and so I think it’s about time that we remind ourselves that we’re still in a pandemic and should exercise caution whenever we go out of our homes.

Let’s all act like we have the virus unknowingly and are asymptomatic.  Let’s protect others from getting infected from us via our breath and body fluids by wearing a mask and avoiding talking in public.  Inversely, let’s protect ourselves from getting infected by frequently washing our hands or disinfecting them, being mindful of what we touch, wearing our shields properly, and keeping our distance.  The rate of new infections we have is alarming and if we don’t do anything about it, our healthcare will collapse and more people will die.  Only by everyone’s cooperation can we control this pandemic while we’re waiting for vaccines.  Only when enough people have been vaccinated do we achieve “herd immunity.”  Only until we achieve herd immunity will we have a chance to get back to normal.  While we wait, let’s keep each other safe.

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