Briones: Context and common sense

Publio J. Briones III
·2 min read

Let me make one thing clear. I did not make up these figures. In fact, I lifted them from a CNN Philippines report. Verbatim. That’s why they’re in quotes.

“In its latest monitoring report, (the independent research group) OCTA said the daily average new cases in Metro Manila over the past three days have climbed to 563. This is up by 45 percent from the daily average of 388 recorded from the week prior.

“The region’s reproduction number, a statistic used to measure the rate of virus transmission, also grew to 1.22 from the 1.00 listed two weeks ago.

“The positivity rate in NCR — or the percentage of those infected out of all tested — has meanwhile breached five percent over the past week. This is based on around 16,000 RT-PCR tests conducted daily. The group noted that the last time the region exceeded five percent was November 2020. The World Health Organization recommends that the positivity rate be kept below that percentage.”

Pasay City, which saw a 203 percent spike in the number of infections in the last three days, quickly locked down 33 barangays and one establishment.

I’m not sure if it deployed police officers on the streets or stationed armored vehicles on busy intersections like what Barangay Lahug in Cebu City did on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021.

For a minute there, I thought I was looking at the situation in Myanmar, where people have been demonstrating against the military that overthrew the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel laureate, who, by the way, stood by while the same military massacred the country’s Muslim Rohingya minority a few years back.

I’m just saying.

Leaders in Metro Cebu have been quick to impose draconian measures, making arrests and using what Department of Health 7 spokesperson Dr. Mary Jean Loreche called persons of authority like the police and the military to “disperse clustering of persons that contribute to the spread of the virus.”

Of course, the good doctor doesn’t help the situation by sowing fear and panic among locals with her pronouncements of the existence of “mutations of concern” here in Cebu without initially making clear whether these “mutations” are more virulent or not.

In fact, the health department is not really sure yet what’s going on, but it has preempted further studies with its bombastic and vague declarations.

I know I shouldn’t rant. But last Sunday, I went to several pharmacies to buy maintenance medicines only to be turned away at the door because I forgot to bring my face shield even though I was wearing a mask and had my glasses on.

It was my fault, I know.

But this apparent lack of common sense helps explain why the country continues to flounder amid this health crisis.