Cabaero: New hazards of the job

Nini Cabaero

ELECTED local officials are among those falling victim to the hazards of being in the frontline of the fight against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard Chan became the first mayor to get infected with the novel coronavirus. Next came Daanbantayan Mayor Sun J. Shimura who confirmed Sunday, June 21, 2020, that he tested positive for the virus. The difference between them and medical frontliners who get sick is that even when they are indisposed, there are people both healthy and sick who continue to rely on their leadership. When you’re sick you are required and expected to take a rest and follow medical orders, especially that the coronavirus has already claimed hundreds of thousands of lives worldwide. It’s serious.

For the two mayors, the work goes on despite their being found positive for the virus. They have their vice mayors, councilors and executive department heads to do the job but it helps calm residents when their leaders are heard from and seen. And mayors have to continue to monitor reports on the ground.

Before they got sick they went around their city or town, met with other frontliners and people asking for assistance or guidance. They are a vulnerable sector in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Not only that. Shimura, in his Facebook post Sunday, said that on June 16, before he got sick, he went about his work and then traveled to Mandaue City for the meeting with mayors at the Provincial Capitol the next day. In the course of his work, he went to other local seats of government and met with fellow mayors.

For Shimura and other government officials, the tracing of those they have been in contact with becomes complicated because they met with others in the course of their work and with fellow leaders of towns and cities, heads of their own locality’s campaign to prevent the spread of the virus.

They must have taken the needed precautions but somehow the virus still got to them. Mayor Chan, for example, has been seen wearing personal protective equipment (PPEs) including goggles and proper footwear when moving around but the coronavirus still got to him.

Shimura, for his part, has placed himself in isolation at least for a week, closed down the mayor’s office although town hall operations continued, and had the entire building disinfected. Other government offices he visited would also have to be disinfected and the people he had contact with have to be tested.

Local officials have the responsibility to lead constituents through this pandemic. With it is the responsibility to keep healthy for their sake and for the people they lead. It is reassuring for constituents to see their mayors up and about and busy directing the fight against the virus.

There is no sure way to prevent getting the virus but the precautions these officials take would ensure uninterrupted performance of their mandate.