Malilong: Angry over being called hard-headed?

Frank Malilong

SO THE quarantine is causing so much inconvenience, hardship even, to Cebu City residents but let us pause for a while and ask: what alternative do we have in order to prevent the coronavirus from spreading further? Have we even bothered to look at the experience of other countries?

When the Covid-19, then still a mysterious disease, reared its ugly head in Wuhan, China, what did the Chinese government do? They shut the city off and kept its residents inside their houses. Japan and South Korea, the first two Asian countries after China to be hardest hit by the disease, did the same. And so did Singapore. And what happened next?

Japan managed to limit infections to only 17,936 and deaths to a comparatively low 967, according to the latest figures posted on its dashboard by the Johns Hopkins University. South Korea’s record was even better at 12,535 cases and 281 deaths. But the real success story can be claimed by Singapore which, although hit with 42,629 cases, only had 26 fatalities.

It may be argued that these countries are rich while we are poor, which is admittedly true. But look at Italy and a number of other European countries. They did not immediately impose restrictions on the movement of people even when warnings had been made of a possible upsurge in infections. And when they finally did, the people did not take it seriously until body bags were being brought out of hospitals in alarming numbers.

The key is discipline, the ability to understand the urgent necessity to limit our movements and the willingness to observe it. We complain that the city is being militarized with armored personnel carriers roaring down our streets and military helicopters buzzing above us. Indeed, that should never have happened.

But how did it come to be that military assets that are supposed to be used to keep the country safe and secure from aggression had to be used to scare us into obeying quarantine regulations? Because we refused to do so on our own, because while we agree that wearing a mask and practising social distancing do prevent contamination, we expect the other guy to do it, not us. It is the law of personal convenience at work again.

And then we take umbrage when we are called hard-headed. But how do you describe those who do not obey the regulations that have repeatedly been made known to them? Use friendly persuasion instead, you say? My gosh, where have you been all these weeks? The mayor was called weak precisely because he refused to run after violators and jail them, preferring instead to appeal to the people’s presumed innate good self. It did not work, did it?

But we still blame the government and its officials because it is easy and convenient. I remember a reader who angrily protested that it is the right of the people to blame the government and its leaders because that is the reason why they’re there. Holy cow.

Or maybe, he was right. So condemn them with as much vitriol as you can gather but please wear that mask and keep yourselves at least six feet from each other. If you still refuse to do so, please do the community a favor. When you get sick because of your reckless behavior, do not seek hospitalization. Stay at home till the end.