By Jay Ledesma

WHILE NCR plus the nearby provinces are now under the General Community Quarantine (GCQ), my beloved Davao City is once again put under the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine until June 20.  This is following a significant increase in our number of new cases for the past weeks already, which compromised the health system in the Region. Unfortunately, this scenario is extended to other parts of Mindanao such as the Zamboanga Peninsula, Northeast Mindanao, Cotabato, and General Santos City.

According to Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, Mindanao has already outpaced NCR, with about 25% of the covid cases now coming from Mindanao.

We know the drills, under the MECQ, movements are more limited and business operations are more restricted. A lot of do’s and don’t again has to be observed. Economic activities will again slow down. Already, a lot of daily wage earners are worried that they will either have lesser workdays or totally lose their jobs.

What is the culprit behind this new wave of an increasing number of covid cases in the Region, specifically in Davao City? It’s again the non-compliance of people (both residents and visitors) with the minimum health protocols.

After the City has successfully reduced our daily new cases from a high of 3-digit to a low of single-digit and lifted the restrictions in most business establishments (including restaurants and resorts) sometimes in March, unfortunately, the basic health protocols were again not properly implemented and observed.  People were again not wearing the face mask and face shields properly.  When I go outside to buy groceries, I again see a lot of people wearing masks but with their nose exposed or wearing their face shields but placed on their heads. One time, the lady working on my nails complained that some of their clients will remove their face shields and masks once inside the salon already. When reminded, the clients will even get mad saying different alibis. Of course, the salon attendants are worried because they can be exposed to the virus and they can be sanctioned for allowing their clients to violate the protocols. Some people can really be inconsiderate. Also before, malls have security personnel going around and calling the attention of those who are not following the protocols   Of late, these were removed already. They were trusting that Davaoenos already have the required self-discipline.  And so they thought…

More social and leisure gatherings were happening where social distancing wasn’t strictly followed. No wonder the new cases are caused by local transmission and affecting people who live, work or socialize together. Last week, a BPO company operating in the city has to be locked down when around 400 of its 1000 employees tested positive with the virus. One can just imagine how the protocols were being observed or not being observed for the virus to spread on this scale. It was reported that since mid-May, 6 BPO companies have been locked down.

Clearly, it’s the people of Davao (Mindanao for that matter) who are causing the imposition of this stricter quarantine. The same people are now affected and are complaining about the MECQ. These are the same people who can also slow down if not totally stop the spread of the virus and consequently, put back the city in a less strict quarantine classification.

What should the people of Davao and of Mindanao collectively do then? Let us be mindful of the following:

* Fighting the virus requires participation and cooperation from everyone. This cannot be stopped or controlled by one person, by one family or by one Barangay. But fighting can start from a person, one family, or one Barangay.

* There are no medicines for viruses. There are different kinds of viruses surrounding us. It can hit us anytime, anywhere.  It can cause a deadly disease that can be fatal, such as covid. While other viral infections trigger very mild or no noticeable reaction at all.

* Prevention is still the key. While there is no cure for the virus, its spread can be prevented. This is where we can do our part, my dear fellow Davaoenos. When we put our acts together, we can prevent the further spread of the virus and as a result help revive our economy.

Again, how do we help in the prevention? Am sure we already know this but am reiterating them again.

Let us seriously and consistently follow the basic health protocols of washing our hands, properly wearing of face mask and face shield, and practicing social distance. Doing these is not being OA or being paranoid.  It’s being responsible and considerate. It’s our responsibility to take care of ourselves. But if you don’t want to take care of yourself, it’s your choice. But at least be considerate of the people around you who are responsible enough to take care of themselves.

Let’s get ourselves vaccinated the soonest chance we have, regardless of the brand. Having a vaccine may not make us 100% bulletproof from the virus but at least when it does hit us, it will just be mild and will prevent hospitalization and death. All vaccines, regardless of brand, have this effect. Let’s not be choosy anymore.  But just like how we need to wear a face mask and shield properly for them to be effective, we also need to complete the 2 doses of the vaccine for it to do its work.  Otherwise, it’s a futile exercise.  It’s disheartening to know that about 113,000 of those who got their first jab did not return for their 2nd. I just cannot understand Why?? You have been prioritized over the other millions of Filipinos who are wanting to be protected because you have a higher risk of getting severely infected. Yet, you wasted it.   

Perhaps for some, it’s still not a complete waste. There may still be time for you to get your 2nd jab.

If we want to be part of the solution to this pandemic that has brought so much hardship to many of our fellow Filipinos, let’s just follow the health protocol and get ourselves vaccinated.  Yes, this too shall pass… but only when we do our part. Otherwise, please do yourself and the others the favor of just staying in your room. If you can’t be part of the solution at least don’t add any more to the problem.

Then maybe no City will again cry in frustration, “Oh no! Not again!”

About the Columnist

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Ms. Jay Ledesma writes about local tourism and business bits that delve on investments and insurance.