The Department of Health (DOH) 7 called it a “third wave” of Covid-19 infections but hastened to downplay it as just a rise in number. There’s still nothing to worry about because the health care system is not yet overwhelmed. Authorities should still act on the matter, though, or things could go worse considering the coronavirus variants that have surfaced worldwide. Add to that the obvious loosening up on the protocols by both the government and the public.
Public transport is where this has gotten obvious. Physical distancing is no longer observed in buses, jeepneys and multicabs even if the fares have not been lowered. The jeepney fare was raised from P7 to P10 because of the distance needed between passengers. That is no longer observed now. And the Land Transportation Office or LTO is not acting on it enough.
Even contact tracing has slowed down. My friend who delivers bottled water to our house has not been able to do so now because he got infected by the virus. In the early days of the pandemic, that would have warranted visits by health workers to houses where my friend delivered the bottled water. But it seems to me like nobody cares now. There are other stories about infections in our place, but nobody is investigating. It is worrisome for me, of course, especially because my two sons have not yet been vaccinated.
And vaccination has been hampered by the lack of vaccines. This is partly because rich countries are hoarding the vaccines and partly because we don’t have money to buy these. So the wait for my sons will be longer. In the meantime, it wouldn’t be too much to ask the public to continue following the protocols and for the government to be strict again in pushing the public to impose the protocols.
It is still too early for us to act normal because the virus is still in our midst. While we would like establishments to reopen, they should do so with the understanding that minimum protocols should still be followed. The wearing of face masks and physical distancing must continue to be followed especially inside public utility vehicles. The LTO needs to be conscious of that point.
Months ago, we talked of practicing the so-called “new normal” when the economy reopens. The “new normal” includes the imposition of the minimum protocols to prevent the spread of the virus. And yet while we have reopened the economy, the “new normal” has not been practiced. Meaning, we are back to doing old practices that easily spread the virus.
It’s good that the World Health Organization is pushing for equality in the distribution of the vaccines to finally end the pandemic. Rich countries are also starting to do what the Chinese did earlier, which was to use the vaccines for diplomacy. The United States is delivering vaccines to states it considers its friends, the Philippines included. Some of the Pfizer vaccine jabs that were used in the vaccination were donated by our so-called “big brothers.” Hope the US gives us more.