THE downgrading of Cebu’s risk level for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) is a welcome change that should not lead to the relaxing of pandemic precautions.
The low-risk declaration for Cebu was made by a research group based on the percentage of daily attack rates for the disease, but it wasn’t clear what it means to have the island under a low-risk rating.
Octa Research said the daily attack rate per 1,000 population in Cebu decreased in two consecutive weeks from Sept. 16 to Oct. 6. Less than 10 new cases every day were recorded in that period, a SunStar Cebu report said. The daily attack rate measures the proportion of new infections per 1,000 population in a day. With less than one percent per 1,000 daily attack rate, Cebu is now a low-risk area, the research group said.
Octa Research was described in the report as an independent and interdisciplinary research group composed primarily of academics from the University of the Philippines and the University of Sto. Tomas who monitor the Covid-19 situation in the Philippines.
As of Friday, Oct. 9, 2020, the Health department said Cebu province and the cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu had a combined total of 27 new Covid-19 cases.
The research group did not say if low-risk meant relaxing of safety protocols like physical distancing and wearing masks and shields. Instead, it said local governments should intensify testing, tracing and isolating those infected.
The low-risk designation should not let the public worry less about getting infected. They should worry still and be smarter about taking the effort to keep safe. People should accept the risk ranking as recognition for the effort and sacrifice to keep themselves and their families virus-free.
The de-escalation does not mean we can believe United States President Donald Trump who said after he got Covid-19 and left the hospital, “Don’t let it dominate you. Don’t be afraid of it.” Trump had downplayed the severity of the disease despite the number of deaths in the US breaching 210,000. When he tested positive for the virus, he spent three nights in the hospital which is a short stay compared to the usual confinement of five to 10 days for those with mild to moderate symptoms.
Trump’s insistence to ignore safety protocols imposed by public health experts and scientists is not only dangerous but also an insult to those who lost loved ones to the disease, who got infected, who took care of Covid-19 patients and all those who complied with quarantine orders because they feared infection.
It is an insult to those who lost a parent, sibling or friend to the disease. It is an affront to those who had fever and shortness of breath and later found they have damaged lungs they would have to live with and whose recovery lasted weeks, even months.
While Cebu’s risk ranking for Covid-19 has gone down, Cebuanos should not be reckless and disobey rules to protect them and those near them.