By Jay Ledesma
IT’S almost one year since the Covid-19 pandemic ruled the world. By now, we should already be experts and masters of what to do and not to do amidst the pandemic. We should already be used to living under the new normal and observing the proper protocols.
But after almost a year, here I am still writing about the negligence, disobedience, mishandling, and mismanagement of the pandemic situations around us. That after almost a year now, while our other Asian neighbors have managed to lower down their new cases, the Philippines' daily new Covid-19 cases continue to rise.
Davao Region, where am based, has consistently landed on the daily Top 5 cities with new cases.
But why is this happening? We know the rules, we know the drills, we know the protocols. But we also don’t obey, are still not clear on the protocols and are inconsistent on our applications of the rules.
We are still prohibited to have big gatherings. But in our own subdivision, we have seen some of our neighbors throwing parties. Basing on the rows and rows of cars parked along the streets and people coming in and out, the number of guests was definitely beyond the maximum allowed. Since it’s an exclusive subdivision, it’s not easily seen by the local authorities. The subdivision administration and the Homeowners Association are helpless. Perhaps, if not yet done, we can already deputize subdivision admin and homeowners officers so they can give warning or notice to the residents. Or better yet, residents should do self-regulation. Let’s not wait for authorities to still call our attention when we already know the right thing to do. Let’s not be another Pimentel or Sinas or Tim Yap. Let’s not cause or add to the increasing numbers anymore.
All Davao residents and visitors are required to get QR codes for easy contract tracing. The protocol is very simple and clear... QR code is supposed to be presented/scanned when entering and exiting an establishment. But this simple protocol is not consistently followed by the different local establishments. For instance, Abreeza, GMall, and NCCC Malls are implementing the QR code system but this is absent in the big SM malls here in Davao. Why are they exempted?
But even within the malls, it’s still inconsistent. In some gates of Abreeza, QR code is scanned going in and out, but from the grocery to parking, it’s only required when entering. Some store outlets inside the malls are doing the QR scan while others are not. Not even manual logging. Again, why are others allowed not to have QR code scanners? Now the impact of this inconsistency is a long time and more effort spent during contract tracing. When one mall goer of Mall X tested positive with the virus, everyone who went to the mall on that same day got an SMS alert. Because Mall X has a QR code system, they easily reached and alerted the concerned mall-goers.
But it would have been much better if all the store outlets inside Mall X has a QR code scanner. The contract tracing will be more targeted and efficient since they can trace where he specifically went and spent more time in.
Now, imagine if an SM mall goer tested positive, how will contact tracing be done and for how long, only because they didn’t install a QR code scanner? All establishments, especially the big ones like SM, are called on to support all initiatives aimed at controlling the spread of the virus.
When a co-employee or a relative of a co-employee tested positive with the virus, what should the local management team do? Should they inform all employees in the same workplace or keep it a secret? Who will be required to de self-quarantine and swab testing, and when? This is one area where there’s still some confusion. Managers and supervisors should be clear with the guidelines when such things happen. There should be a clear communication plan ready to be shared with the concerned employees at the right time so everyone will be guided accordingly. The lack of clear guidelines and proper communications will resort to employees making their own speculations and taking the wrong actions. Management should provide clarity and not confusion.
When my son went home to Davao for Christmas, he took the swab test. He got the results after two days. This was also the experience of my other friends who took the swab test. Results are out after a max of 3 days. For urgent cases, results can be out the same day or the following day. That’s why am shocked to learn about this employee whose swab test has not been released after 6 days (as of the time of this writing). The employee’s spouse is sick with the virus. The couple is from Panabo (part of the Davao Region). Not only is the result delayed. It also took one week from the time the spouse was confirmed positive and taken for the necessary quarantine and treatment, before their LGU scheduled the employee for a swab test. Should it really take that long? Is it not an emergency case that needs immediate attention since the spouse is already a COVID patient? Good thing the employee already did self-quarantine. But what if the employee did not have self-discipline and continued to go out during the waiting period?
Perhaps the Panabo LGU is already overloaded with swab test requests. Whatever the case may be, it’s the lookout of any LGU to ensure that Persons of Interest should be attended to immediately to contain the probable spread of the virus. More swab test facilities, perhaps.
It is providing a solution to a gap that’s been existing.
With the UK variant already in our country and the fact that vaccines may not reach every Filipinos sooner, we can still expect an increasing trend in our COVID cases.
Let’s be mindful that the government, private corporations, leaders, and ordinary citizens like us, have roles to play in all of these. We can either be contributing to or preventing the increase of new COVID cases. We can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. The choice is ours to make. What’s your choice?
About the Columnist
Ms. Jay Ledesma writes about local tourism and business bits that delve on investments and insurance.