PHOTOS of people leaving government buildings were posted on social media right after the earthquake hit Tuesday morning. The questions that followed were on why some of the government workers did not wear masks or face shields.
As in any earthquake, the one that was felt in Cebu Tuesday at 8:03 a.m. caught people by surprise. Those inside government offices and buildings were photographed rushing out, some in single file as prescribed in evacuation procedures but there were those without mask or face shield in violation of safety requirements in this time of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
It can be explained. People were in a rush to leave the building and grabbed what they could on their way out.
The earthquake was felt at Intensity 2 in Cebu but it was strongest at Intensity 7 in Masbate in the Bicol region. One man died and several houses were damaged, reports said.
While it was understandable that those who rushed out of their buildings in Cebu forgot their masks or shields, it is a concern that safety measures against the Covid-19 got relegated in the face of another emergency.
Medical experts may point out there is still the threat of the Covid-19 during an earthquake or a typhoon or any other natural disaster. The Sars-CoV-2 that causes Covid-19 does not go away when the earth shakes or the winds blow hard.
There should be advisories or guidelines to the public on how to continue to protect themselves against the Covid-19 when caught in a different kind of emergency. That was the need that got highlighted in the earthquake Tuesday.
Another concern was the preparedness of disaster management agencies and officials to address an emergency on top of the current one. An emergency situation in addition to the Covid-19 pandemic will require that disaster management officials and personnel gather their strength and resources, remain clear-headed and rely on their knowledge and skills.
They have enough on their hands with the pandemic. They will have more to worry about if there is another emergency such as a destructive temblor.
The earthquake felt in Cebu Tuesday is a reminder that government has to prepare for natural disasters in the time of Covid-19.