Nalzaro: Lockdown not enough to beat Covid-19

Bobby Nalzaro

THERE are quarters and even some politicians who are egging our local leaders and policy makers to impose a total lockdown in our community amid this coronavirus disease (Covid-19) problem we are facing today. I don’t know if our local leaders are seriously considering it also. Earlier, Gov. Gwen Garcia and Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella said they were not entertaining such idea. But yesterday, I read in the paper that Labella said “it is possible, but they have to study it carefully.”

I agree with Labella. He and the other local chief executives should study it carefully before imposing such stricter measures because they will be responsible and answerable to their own people whatever the repercussions of their action will be.

May I just again raise these nonsense questions: Will a single case of Covid-19 be enough justification to impose a total lockdown? The Department of Health (DOH) 7 officials stood firm in their findings that there is no other case here. This, despite the unverified reports that there are people who were infected. I heard that a couple, both physicians, have been infected and are both in critical condition in a hospital. A prominent businessman in the maritime industry was also infected. But these are yet to be confirmed by health authorities. I don’t know what took them so long to release their findings.

Second, do our various local government units have the capability to handle the situation, especially in providing and extending support, like food, to the thousands of residents who might be displaced during a total lockdown?

The government will still allow other businesses to operate, like grocery stores, supermarkets and pharmacies. But how can people buy their needs if they don’t have money? Remember, it’s a lockdown and people are prohibited to go out of their homes. Can our government deliver the basic needs of the people at their doorstep? Starvation will lead to a chaotic situation and anarchy. Will you allow this scenario to happen? Can our military and the police control them if that situation, God forbid, will occur?

A top emergency expert from the World Health Organization said “countries cannot simply lock down their societies to defeat coronavirus, adding that public health measures are needed to avoid resurgence of the virus later on.” Mike Ryan said that “what we really need to focus on is finding those who are sick, those who have the virus, and isolate them, find their contacts and isolate them.”

Ryan said, “The danger right now with the lockdown, if we don’t put in place the strong public health measures now, when those movement restrictions and lockdown are lifted, the danger is the disease will jump back up.” He added that “once we’ve suppressed the transmission, we have to go after the virus. We have to take the fight to the virus.”

This means that a lockdown is not a guarantee. The United Kingdom did not impose a total lockdown and yet managed to contain the spread of the virus by going back to basics, proper hygiene, washing hands and social distancing.

It’s only now that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered its citizens to “stay at home,” like the policy we adopted here. Police will break up public gatherings and fine people flouting rules. Shops, gyms and places of worship are all closed and social events including weddings but not funerals will be postponed.

We are now in “general community quarantine.” We can still move freely and yet we are complaining. How much more if we are in a total lockdown? The policy we are adopting now is better for as long as we will just follow the law. Stay at home if possible.