Malilong: Paying for the sins of December and January

Frank Malilong
·2 min read

The Philippines has 1,802 new coronavirus infections reported on average each day, according to Reuters. In the last seven days, the infection rate was 11 per 100,000 people.

We are without doubt huge contributors to this worrisome number. Our daily average of new cases during the last seven days in the province and the cities of Cebu, Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue has exceeded 400, nearly a quarter of the national total.

Cebu City has the worst record, owning more than half of that total figure. We are back to being the sick city of the country after a brief glorious moment of being hailed as the model for containing the spread of the Covid-19 disease. As a friend wryly noted in a WhatsApp chat, Cebu tops again.

We are told that we are now in danger of being placed under a quarantine regime that is more restrictive than the current MGCQ. Health officials are hard-pressed looking for measures to prevent us from going into that slide, SunStar Cebu reported yesterday. Deadline for finding those measures is today, February 26.

Only a few parts of the country have remained under GCQ: Metro Manila, the Cordilleras, Batangas, Tacloban City, Davao City, Davao Del Norte, Lanao Del Sur and Iligan City. It is likely that restrictions in these places will be downgraded to MGCQ while we’re headed to the opposite direction, if the DOH cannot find us a escape route.

I oppose the return of the GCQ or worse, the ECQ for only one reason: it is too late. We should have done it in December. We should have prevented the super spreaders from happening.

What happened in November should have already sufficiently warned us. People gathered during the All Saints and All Souls Day holidays to celebrate with friends and family. Two weeks later, the number of coronavirus infections surged.

But we did not learn our lesson. We defied repeated appeals for us to forego going to church for the Misa de Gallo and to hear mass at home instead. We trooped to the malls like we used to do before the pandemic. We held parties and ate and drank with friends. We did not want anyone or anything to steal our Christmas.

The same thing happened in January with the New Year and the Pista Senyor dawn masses. Again we were told to hear mass at home or if we had to hear mass in person, to observe physical distancing but we ignored the advice, forcing the Augustinian fathers to eventually cancel in-person Church activities. By then, how many people may have been infected and may have in turn transmitted the disease?

It is easy to see how we brought this second wave of infections upon ourselves and how we are now made to pay for the sins of December and January. Let’s not compound the penalty with a quarantine. Why don’t we just bring in the vaccines now?