THE enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), which starts today, March 27, 2020, for the Cebu towns and component cities—ushers us to another level in this fight to “flatten the curve,” a community measure to slow down the infection rate to avoid overwhelming the health system’s capacity.
In the case of Cebu City, the ECQ begins at 12 noon of March 28, 2020 and will end on 12 noon of April 28, unless the situation allows for an earlier lifting.
“None is more important than your lives and families,” said Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella.
In a nutshell, an ECQ would mean stricter home quarantine, suspension of transportation, regulations in basic provisions, heightened presence of uniformed personnel. There are, of course, exemptions: persons who run our medical facilities, government officials and staff who make up the skeletal workforce, drivers and personnel of all types of cargoes, media, farmers, fishermen, agribusiness personnel, and people seeking medical attention. Workers of exempted businesses are also allowed movement, such as those in groceries, food establishments, banks and money transfers, veterinary clinics, water-refilling stations, laundry services, hardware stores and courier services.
The idea is to cut just about any possible chain of connection through which the coronavirus 2019 could cross. With gravity and a possible mass testing, it would be easier to imagine where the virus falls, where they can be contained, among others, when the populace keeps still.
Government assures that there is adequate supply of food and basic necessities. Households are given quarantine passes in case they need to replenish supplies. The barangay officials also did their rounds to distribute the cash aid for the less privileged families.
Yesterday, March 26, long queues trooped to the grocery stores and automated teller machines, a terrifying scene if one imagines what a perfect pool they become for the virus to flex its force.
It is, therefore, important for government to communicate as widely and clearly its assurance that as far as inventory of basic needs is concerned, there is nothing that the public should be scared of. Panic will only make things worse.
In the end, it will be best to pair the quarantine with massive testing if only to allay fears and anxieties. As of now, it seems that on our end, we’re doing a rope-a-dope, a boxing term where a fighter leans by the rope and wait until the enemy drains its energy.
But this is not boxing.