FREE the elderly.
Cebu City Vice Mayor Michael Rama will appeal to the National Government for a relaxation of community quarantine protocols to allow citizens aged 60 years and above to circulate in public.
As reported by Jerra Mae J. Librea in SunStar Cebu on Oct. 1, the Cebu City vice mayor expressed his concerns for the well-being of elderly citizens who have been prevented from leaving their homes since March 16 when Cebu City was placed under general community quarantine (GCQ) to prevent the escalation of cases of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
Now that Cebu City has been downgraded to the modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) status, Rama said that senior citizens should already be allowed to hear mass in church and visit the malls. The elderly follow safety protocols as well as everyone else, he argued.
The gradual opening of the economy means more crowding in malls, transport terminals and public utility vehicles. Thus, there must be no relaxation of community vigilance and discipline in continuing safety protocols, such as wearing of masks and face shields and going out for essential purposes.
According to the same SunStar Cebu report, data from the Cebu City Emergency Operations Center (EOC) show that the elderly account for more than half of the Covid-19 fatalities: 387 of the 673 deaths, representing 57.5 percent, were persons aged 60 and older.
Older persons may be more assiduous about practicing physical distancing but in public areas, there is no guarantee other people are as disciplined about following protocols. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends limiting interactions with other people to reduce the risks of incurring severe illness from Covid-19.
For older adults, who may have existing conditions increasing their vulnerability, severe illness leads to hospitalization, intensive care, ventilator assistance or death. Medical treatment is prohibitive.
The Cebu City vice mayor raises a valid concern that the elderly’s sense of well-being may be adversely affected by prolonged social isolation. Families must consider having their members aged 65 or older to be vaccinated against influenza and pneumococcal disease since risks increase during the pandemic, according to cdc.gov.
Reducing the elderly’s stress means being sensitive to their needs. Loneliness may be assuaged by including the elderly in family mealtimes and conversations. Virtual gatherings offer the “lowest” risk from Covid-19.
Younger members of the family must assist their members aged 60 and older to update personal data in the Cebu City system to qualify for the cash card and avail themselves of the financial assistance for the remaining four months of this year.
Last Oct. 2, Librea reported that the Cebu City Government will shift the distribution of financial assistance to the elderly and persons with disability from the in-person system to the cash card to minimize risks of acquiring Covid-19.
Updating the member’s data on www.cebucity.gov.ph offers the least risk. Social welfare focal workers will visit homes to assist members without digital access or with limited mobility to update their data.
The Cebu City Government must initiate a smooth transition of systems through early and wide dissemination of clear information to beneficiaries. The system should culminate with the orderly house-to-house distribution of cash cards to the elderly to avoid overcrowding brought about by members anxious not to be cut off from their financial assistance.
The last tranche of assistance for 2020 is P4,000, which will be coursed through the cash cards. Exemptions to the cash cards are beneficiaries living in mountain barangays and those who are bedridden.
The smooth transition to the cash card system will give the best kind of public service to the elderly during the pandemic: one designed to meet their needs and minimize their stress and risks of exposure to Covid-19.