Briones: Managing the fear pandemic

Publio J. Briones III
·2 min read

IT needed to be said in a language that people could understand.

And that’s what Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia did during her regular press conference on Friday night, May 22, 2020.

Those who watched might have noticed the relaxed atmosphere, convivial even, even though the topic was serious.

For me, it was just the right mix to make people at ease while they listened.

The governor spoke in a mix of Cebuano and English. She was not trying to impress. She didn’t use any hard-core medical jargon. There was no need, really, since majority of her audience would not have understood anyway.

And I think that’s what government officials should remember when talking about the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

They should keep it simple. They should keep it real. They should get to the point, unlike this column. And they should put things into perspective.

Like what Garcia did last Friday night.

She reminded the public that even though we’re in a middle of a health crisis, there are people out there who suffer and die from other diseases. In fact, many, many more people. And they also need looking after.

This doesn’t mean the Province will do away with community quarantine guidelines because it won’t.

Don’t get me wrong. The Covid-19 threat is real, but, as Garcia said, getting infected is not a death sentence. In fact, roughly 80 percent of the patients do not display any symptoms. Meaning, they are all healthy. Those who do get seriously sick usually have preexisting medical conditions.

But everybody already knows this, which may explain why more and more people in Cebu City are venturing outside with authorities looking the other way as long as they wear face masks and they observe social distancing.

The numbers are revealing.

The governor earlier drew a comparison between cardiovascular disease and the novel coronavirus cases. Last Friday, it was between dengue and Covid-19 cases.

Since the start of the year, towns and component cities under the Province’s jurisdiction have recorded 2,489 dengue cases. With Cebu Province having a population of 3.2 million, that’s 778 dengue cases for every one million residents.

If you look at Covid-19, the Province has recorded 83 cases, many of which were discovered inside the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center in Cebu City. That’s 25 cases for every one million residents.

It does make you wonder, doesn’t it? But it had to be pointed out.

Other officials would have been afraid of the consequences. Garcia took a risk by even suggesting that there other pressing matters that also need to be addressed. Mind you, the governor did not make up the numbers. She was just laying out facts.