Lockdown. Quarantine. Isolation. Containment.
These are words that are unheard of in the last century in democratic countries.
In the context of a health setting, these words were last used in a flu pandemic in 1918. More than a century ago.
A hundred years later, who would have ever imagined that another pandemic would arise? Yet it did. The virus is called SARS-COV-2. The disease – COVID-19.
The coronavirus outbreak has harmed communities and disrupted economic activity in many countriesThe New York Times 3.16.2020
The evolution of digital technology, social media and the internet has undoubtedly changed the way we live in the 21st century. Everything is now readily accessed by our fingertips. Mobile devices and other accessory gadgets have created wonders at how staying connected we can still be in spite this health crisis we’re experiencing. All these have cemented the fact that human beings are social creatures. It has become our core DNA.
However, when social distancing becomes the rule, our norms are perturbed. Daily habits get changed. Schools are closed. Mobility is restricted. Travel bans and vacations are at a standstill. Work is muddled. Deadlines and targets affected. Economies are tested. Finances are disrupted. Those that have the least in life, end up suffering the most.
Life is at pause mode.
In societies where life plays out on the street or in the cafe, where friends are greeted with kisses on the cheeks, the outbreak is creating fear and fragmentation.Steven Erlanger, The New York Times, 3.16.2020
While the novel coronavirus gains steam outside of China and at a pace much faster than its spread in Wuhan, the doubling rates in the rest of the world has become a major concern.
In the above table it shows that aggressive testing is proportional to the doubling rate. The more aggressive we test on a broader scale, the longer the period to doubling time. Below is the Philippines data.
That doubling time is why we react the way we do now. The number of deaths has disproportionally risen. In one of my blog posts https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/relativejoyforyou.wordpress.com/6568, there’s a daily track on the status of the pandemic. The stance of the World Health Organization at the beginning of this COVID-19 outbreak was a feeble one. That’s how we got to where we are today. The reactionary attitude of individual nations is rationalized. Albeit a bit late, they’re doing all they can to bring this pandemic to its knees.
So I’m writing this blog on a day off from the hospital because I am heeding the call of the government – stay home, stay safe.
Yet I cannot help but think about the other people outside my gated community. 90% of those that own businesses in Metro Manila are micro enterprises (not even small or medium). They invest their hard earned money in tiny businesses inside malls. With the shut down of malls or other places of business, they have nothing at all. Suffering an economic loss is an understatement. 80% of employees depend on the flailing public transportation system of the metro. No matter how difficult life is, how far they live, they will trek to their place of work because they have mouths to feed and bills to pay. The disruption in daily life is most lamentable among those who have the least in life. And so yeah, I’m not all rah-rah about the total expanded community quarantine, a.k.a, lockdown. That’s because the government forgot to think about the larger group of people affected by this lockdown. And when you have government officials who tell you to just shut up and shove it, well that’s the kind of empathy you get from people who have water for brains. We silently concurred with government people who were out-of-touch with reality because we have the means to sit back, relax and watch how this eventually evolves.
Then there are my colleagues who are at the forefront of the battle against this pandemic continue to tend to patients who flock to the Emergency Room demanding for tests because of paranoia or probably real COVID-19 illness. And those of us who still get up in the day and see sick and well patients because we are morally and ethically bound by the responsibility of our profession. The whole health force at risk, tired, undermanned and yet end up unappreciated by others who have nothing better to say or do because all they care about are their personal bravados.
I would least care for the generation that thrives on bars, crowds and parties. Upending the lives of these social animals have no bearing at all on how this pandemic is addressed. If they take a reality check, they will realize that when the dust settles, unlike the 80% of the lower socioeconomic working class, they will be back to their spoiled, privileged daily lives sipping designer coffees and hanging out at bars or other forms of reckless or blissful living. Their whining is annoying. Someone should slap them to reality.
Finally, there are the opportunists who take advantage of the gullible and/or the vulnerable. Those heartless businessmen who hoard medical supplies and sell them at extravagant prices, or peddle equipments, tools, medicines, medical devices that have no scientific value or at best useless for diagnosing or treating COVID-19 should be punished for economic sabotage. Sadly, some of them have direct connections with government officials who are accomplices to criminal acts of deception. The vermins who take advantage of a crisis for personal economic gain and thrive on disasters for financial remuneration will have their comeuppance.
Growing up in the metro, I remember seeing only deserted streets during the Holy Week, especially Good Friday. That’s the best day of the year for me. When the daily rush of work is placed to a one day pause, it’s a wonderful feeling to breath for a day. The past few days has been a quiet one. One of solitude and peace. It has allowed me (and hopefully all of us) to reflect on life at a time of a pandemic.
As each day evolves, we get to see the good in humanity. Those selfless people who give more of themselves than you would expect. The extraordinary heroes during unprecedented times. Those who think out of the box in order to share our Filipino bayanihan spirit. Not having to think about what we can do about ourselves, but sharing whatever we can and have because we care more about our neighbors. Symbolically, the season of lent did not come at a better time to symbolize the strength, resiliency and sacrifice during this time of crisis.
Then there are the wolves. I am lost for words at describing the decrepit people who walk among us. They will forever be a symbol of evil lurking among good. They will remind us that the battle of the novel coronavirus is not between science and the virus, but a representation of the fight between good and evil. The struggle is real but that should remind us that in both good and bad times, we will survive this.
Sit back. Breath. Appreciate your family and friends. Enjoy the new found freedom from the humdrum of work. Go for a walk. Listen to music. Finish a book. Binge on Netflix. Break up with your boyfriend or girlfriend. Connect with yourself and sit down and contemplate on the life you’ve really wanted.
There are a million things you can do. And should do. Those things and tasks you’ve sidelined can be addressed now.
Perhaps the coronavirus outbreak is a gentle reminder to us that life will show its beautiful side in the midst of being ugly. That life is fleeting. That life is a gift and should be celebrated. Everything else that happens around us is just a bonus or noise.
Stay safe. Stay home. Good luck!