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CANE POINTS: Are we fighting a losing battle against Covid?

By Butch Bacaoco, August 18, 2020

Are we fighting a losing battle against Covid?

The latest count of Covid-19 infected patients in Bacolod City has reached 501, with 10 fatalities. In other words, for every 100 Bacolodnons infected by Covid, two of them die.

This statistic can be interpreted optimistically, focusing on the fact that 98 out of 100 infected persons survive the disease.

But if the two fatalities out of the 100 patients happen to be one’s grandparent, father, mother, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, close friend, classmate or neighbor, then even the 98% survival rate can hardly console the grief of the bereaved family.

Bacolod has recently become a hotbed of Covid infection. Worse, the spread of the virus in the city is caused mostly by local transmission.

Take the case of a local government employee who tested positive last month. All 27 close contacts of the patient reportedly turned out positive of the virus, too.

That translates to local transmission among a potential 27 out of the 61 barangays in the city. Now, more than half of the city’s barangays have positive cases, with more than 500 houses under localized lockdown.

The barangay chairman of the city’s largest barangay confirmed just yesterday that he and his son have tested positive of the virus. All members of his household and almost all barangay officials and staff have to undergo swab test and mandatory quarantine. The barangay hall has to be closed down, suffering the fate of the Bacolod City Government Center and other government offices recently.

This notoriety has compelled other local government units in the province to adopt various measures regulating the entry of Bacolod residents to their respective jurisdictions, from requiring health certificates, mandating two weeks quarantine and outright ban.

Can’t blame them. Most of these LGU leaders are driven by fear of this not-exactly-unknown but highly unpredictable virus.

At the start of the pandemic when there was still no Covid case in the city and province, the government instituted a virtual lockdown and gave assistance, in the form of cash and food, to the most vulnerable sectors.

Then government came out with a “Balik Probinsya” program which practically ensured that the contagion is evenly distributed from Manila to all points of the Philippines.

Deluged with the unregulated entry of people from Manila, the LGUs couldn’t cope, resulting to an outburst of local transmission similar to what happened in Bacolod.

Now that the pace of the transmission has grown exponentially, people are calling for a return of the lockdown. Ironically, the same government which initiated the lockdown at the early stage of the pandemic is against such measure, stating that it no longer has the resources to feed the affected people.

Based on the knee-jerk reactions of government, the fight against Covid can be likened to a headless chicken running in all directions but still ending up dead.

Simply to project that they are doing something about the crisis, national and local government officials strive to outdo each other in implementing the most absurd anti-Covid measures.

In the national scene, the DILG secretary mandates the use of motorcycle barriers for married couples and live-in partners. Despite expert testimonies from safety engineers motorcycle manufacturers and riders themselves on hazards posed by the barrier, and despite mounting evidence of accidents caused by the barriers, the secretary still insists on implementing his brainchild.

In his way of thinking, the couple can catch Covid if they ride in a motorcycle without a barrier between them, but they can’t catch Covid if they hug, kiss and sleep with each other in their house.

Not to be outdone is Bacolod City’s mayor who moved the curfew earlier from 10pm-4am to 8pm-4pm and instituted a liquor ban.

Well, it’s a prerogative granted to him by the City Council. Presumably, the mayor based his move on scientific evidence that the virus most aggressively spreads between 8pm to 10pm in areas where liquor is served. Bacolodnons should simply accept the mayor’s wisdom on this matter, because they, ordinary mortals that they are, have no access to such strictly confidential scientific data.

From face masks to face shields to motorcycle barriers.

What measures will they think of next?*

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