Editorial: Maundy Thursday 2020

·2 min read

MEMORY should serve us well.

By the time the enhanced community quarantine was declared in Cebu—cities and municipalities—in March of 2020, Cebu only had nine “presumptive positive” cases, the samples had to be taken from the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), then the only Department of Health (DOH)-accredited facility to declare officially a Covid-19 case.

The VSMMC then, said DOH 7 Director Jaime Bernadas, had conducted 81 tests in its two rounds of testing, 72 of which turned out negative.

Sigh. We can only but consign these figures to nostalgia, since after the Holy Week of 2020, following the Carbon Market “binignit” crowd on April 9, the numbers have since shot up. No small accident that around the same time, Barangay Luz, particularly in Barangay Zapatera, already logged 33 Covid-19 cases, prompting the City to shut the entire area, sending military armored vehicles and a host of armed soldiers to man the vicinity. The rest was history. In the coming weeks, cases cropped up in a number of urban poor areas in Cebu City, where proper protocols were not yet in place. The one most painful was the lockdown in Sitio Alaska, Mambaling, easily reaching 600 cases by May, when government aid wasn’t properly prepositioned so as to leave no gap in the flow of supply, leaving a number of residents starving for certain period as some reports claimed.

But it was about that misstep, the April fools that we were when we overlooked the horrible crowding of about 3,000 market-goers that Maundy Thursday of 2020. That marked the tipping point in the surge of cases in Cebu, surpassing in weeks the number of transmissions at the National Capital Region. We became the “epicenter” of Covid-19 in the “whole solar system,” as pointed out by one netizen, who had to unfairly pay for that expensive satire.

We have to bear those lessons to heart, most especially this week as potential for gatherings come aplenty with religious rites and getaways that these days entail. No small warning while transmission cases at the National Capital Region are at portentous, record-breaking rate. More than the view that the public had cut themselves some slack as far as health protocols are concerned is that people become confident at the whiff of a coming vaccine. It’s the people again who are at fault, while officials get away with their own transgressions.

Still and all, it helps in no small measure to take the care part into our own hands, observe the protocol as faithfully as we observe the rites of the Holy Week. This could be our version of sacrifice in Lent’s final stretch, and do more afterwards until such time that we get the elusive vaccine jab.