“DO NO fear, only believe.” - Gospel of Mark 5:36
News headlines have bannered, “No more surgical face masks”. Many Filipinos have become panicky as news of not only one but two confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in the Philippines. Panic buying of surgical facial masks is key indicator, validated by news that in major cities in the country, North, Central ,Southern Luzon, Metro Manila, Visayas and Mindanao , face masks have run out. Many more Pinoys became dismayed, and angry, with the news that a million face masks were sent via special flight to China while the country faces great shortage.
“Shortage of masks, surplus of fear.” What has fuelled the Pinoys’ fear? While the rest of the world is fearless, fellow UP colleague Solita Monsod said the “Philippines is completely out of step with the rest of the world,” in preventing the spread of the said virus. Take note that Russia has closed its approximately 4,200-km border with China, and even poor country, Mongolia, which shares Russia’s border, has locked China out. As many netizens have angrily pointed out, why has Duterte and his cohorts, allowed three days ago, direct Xiamen Airflight from China to land in Davao, with 79 Chinese allowed to disembark after undergoing alleged “strict tests”. Why oh why were two cruise ships, one from Hongkong, and another from Mainland China, allowed to dock in Manila, carrying over 1,400 passengers en toto.
Subic Mayor Rolen Paulino, city officials and citizens, acted to stop the Hongkong cruise ship from proceeding to their city. True, both ships left after two days, but that span of time is enough for fast spread of the 21st century “black plague”. How ironic that the Department of Health has meticulously tracked down 29 as of this date, suspected carriers of 2019-nCoV nearly all around the PH, but the Bureau of Quarantine in the same breath, gallantly clearing 1,500 Chinese citizens after so called “strict test” to roam around NCR for two days.
Given the mainland Chinese tourists’ recalcitrance to travel restrictions to the PH, and thousands more in the country now due to Pogo, and, Duterte’s predisposition to give more value to “political and diplomatic repercussions”, do we have reason for “surplus fear”? When we seriously consider that the reported cases of the incidence of nCoV, are all mainland Chinese, for me, there is no ground for great fear. After all, the contagion virus has been described as very much akin to flu or “trangkaso.” I have been suffering from lingering cough with flu two weeks ago, and surely, I have avoided crowded places, and have stayed home.
Let us not be overtaken by the spirit of fear, in any form. Instead, after taking the necessary precautions, let us trust the healer, Yahweh, and take to mind the words of Jesus our Lord, “Do not fear, only believe.”