Malilong: Our world keeps getting smaller, no thanks to Covid-19

The Other Side

FIRST, it was China. Then it was South Korea, albeit partly. Who’s next? How many more countries will we impose travel restrictions on because of the novel coronavirus?

Remember the 1970s Neil Sedaka hit song? The first lines read: “And my world keeps getting smaller every day. I run but I can’t run away. You’re with me everywhere I go.” I hope it won’t come to that when there’s no place to run away from the deadly virus.

With each passing day, health authorities are becoming more resigned to the inevitability of a Covid-19 pandemic as the coronavirus sweeps the globe with cases in at least 44 countries, according to the New York Times.

This is how it looks now, according to the Times:

More than 81,000 people have been infected with the virus and nearly 3,000 have died mostly in the province of Hubei in China. In Europe, France, Spain and Germany reported increases in cases. In the Middle East, the first infection was discovered in Iran but it has spread to Iraq, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

In Asia, a major outbreak in South Korea has risen to more than 1,500 cases. In South America the first case of viral infection was found in Brazil. And in the United States, a person in California who has not been exposed to anyone known to be infected has tested positive for the coronavirus.

The only bright note in this otherwise gloomy outlook is that a drug maker is expanding its clinical trials of the drug remdesivir as a possible treatment for Covid-19 patients. About 1,000 patients, mostly in Asia, will be given the medicine during the experiment. Note, however, that they’re talking cure here, not prevention. Will they ever find a vaccine for the virus?

In our country the picture isn’t as bleak because no new cases have been reported after those of the three Chinese nationals, one of whom died from the disease. But looks can be deceptive and as Gov. Gwen Garcia declared, we cannot afford to be complacent.

Besides, we actually had 80 Filipinos who were infected while serving in the cruise ship Diamond Princess which has been quarantined in Japan since Feb. 5. The vessel had 3,700 passengers and crew on board and nearly 700 of them had tested positive.

Ten of the 80 infected Filipinos had already been discharged while the 70 others are still confined in hospitals in and around Tokyo, according to a Philippine Daily Inquirer report. Those who tested negative have already been repatriated, arriving in the country on board two Philippine Airlines flights late Tuesday night. They were promptly whisked off to the Athletes’ Village in New Capas, Tarlac where they will be quarantined for 14 days.

Let’s just hope that the current situation does not change for the worse. The Department of Health reported in its website the other day that there are now only 101 cases of admitted patients under investigation (PUIs) with three of them in the Visayas. I look forward to the day when the DOH reports that there are no more admitted PUIs and that we are no longer in any danger of being exposed to the virus.

If our world had to become smaller every day for that to happen, I will willingly pay the price.


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