If this were a TV series, the first season of the pandemic could be described aptly as one helluva rollercoaster ride. And in the same vein as many season endings, yesterday’s 5,404 new cases left us in a climax where the data clearly showed how formidable the virus is.
While many countries had to deal with similar, if not more tragic outcomes in spite of better resources, other nations showed that they were able to step up to the challenge in conquering the pandemic against all odds. For some countries, a change in leadership was necessary to pave the way for addressing correctly in managing the ongoing pandemic in their own territories. The inevitable changes led to better outcomes as worthier leaders took the helm.
If there was one lesson that resonated from the season 1 of the pandemic, it was clear that science played a crucial role at driving the right direction on how a pandemic is managed. How each nation grappled with the pandemic depended heavily on the extent to which its leaders acknowledged the gaps and failures. Without a doubt, every disaster requires a risk management system. But systems are not cast in stone. And disaster preparedness is one that should be ‘forward looking’, using the lessons of the past in order to capacitate itself in order to avert another disaster or if and when it is inevitable, we now have more leg room to manage it because we had foresight.
So we give Caesar what is due Caesar.
We thank the many “czars” for the job done. The tasks given to each was herculean in itself. At the end of the day, there is no playbook on how to survive a pandemic. Some of them, however, could have done a better job had they been better qualified for the task. The defense mechanism(s) of people who are there to defend the faux pas of the government’s less sterling moments is terribly wanting. If there is something we learn in disaster management, it is realizing that gaps exist, gaps are acknowledged and that solutions at addressing them should be provided. Humility, is, after all a virtue lacking in many.
In much the same way as there is no instructional manual on how to manage pandemics, there is nothing written about how economies of various scale can pull through a pandemic without significant losses. Some industries may end up more profitable than others because of the nature of their business. Resilience and innovation tested the various businesses as the world saw the economy grovel to its knees. And the small and medium enterprises were the first to be buried.
The pandemic started at various timelines depending on the country. While some escaped it unscathed, others were left with having to replay the horror, sometimes more than once. We are at that precipice.
The star of 2020 was without a doubt, science.
The speed with how drugs, vaccines, diagnostic modalities and other medical devices were discovered was the silver lining that kept the candle of hope burning through the darkest days last year.
The second season begins on a brighter and more expectant note with these discoveries in science and medicine.
It is what will pull us through the next season of the pandemic.
Let us hope that this will be a short season, and this season finale should have a happy ending.
Like all stories, only we, as a people can write how this story ends.
On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, the Health Agency usually reports slightly lower numbers than the previous days. That’s because the data that is reported is actually two days late. As in other parts of the world, where we get lower numbers on weekends, the Philippines reports its lowest number of cases on Tuesdays (and a tad higher the day after). The actual numbers come in on Wednesdays to Mondays, reflective of that two days lag.
It is also interesting that only the Philippines uses the “date of onset of illness” in capturing cases. Which is odd because majority of the cases do not and cannot pinpoint the date of onset of illness.
Today, the Health Agency reports 4,437 new cases, 11 new deaths and 166 new recoveries.
The stark revelation here is the number of active cases which has climbed to over 57,000 (and continues to climb). In addition the positivity rate for tests remains over 10 percent (11.2 %). With the Ro in the NCR now at 2.03, unless drastic measures are implemented we may actually defy the high numbers we saw last July-August 2020.
With today’s case load, the NCR continued to lead with 2,231 new cases (more than 50%) in spite of the lower total cases for the day. Five other regions recorded triple digits: CALABARZON, Central Luzon, Central Visayas, CAR and Cagayan Valley. Remarkably, Central Visayas moves down to fourth spot after almost two months in second rank.
Eight LGUs in the NCR had triple digits with Quezon City reporting more than 20 percent of the total cases. Manila, Makati, Pasay City, Taguig, Parañaque, Caloocan and Pasig had more than 100 cases each. Fourteen of the 17 LGUs were in the top twenty cities for the country. Of the top ten cities with most cases in the country today, ALL were from Mega Manila.
The province of Cebu for the first time moves down to fourth place in rank on a provincial level. The provinces of Rizal, Bulacan and Cavite now outrank Cebu.
Every country that experienced a surge had one common story. It was worse and more difficult to manage.