“WE ARE still under quarantine.”
As Cebu City eases from enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to general community quarantine (GCQ) today, Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella reiterated last Sunday that the authorities will continue to enforce measures to ensure public safety.
Labella said he would issue yesterday an executive order and guidelines for the GCQ of Cebu City from June 1 to June 15, 2020, reported a SunStar Cebu team on May 30.
Commenting to the report posted on www.sunstar.com.ph, netizens sought clarifications about the availability of public transportation, returning to the provinces, and the safety protocols observed in barbershops and hair salons.
Clear and regular communication about the ongoing campaign to handle the outbreak is all the more needed between the public and the authorities.
Effective public communication is one of the primary reasons behind the successful campaigns of countries dealing with the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), reported CNN on May 30.
Aside from South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, Vietnam, with a population of 97 million people, 328 confirmed cases of Covid-19, and zero deaths as of May 30, sets an example for the Philippines and other countries to emulate.
Unlike the first three countries, Vietnam has many things in common with the Philippines, including a predominantly low- to middle income-earning population and a less advanced health care system, according to World Bank sources quoted in the CNN report.
Guy Thwaites, an infectious disease doctor working in one of Vietnam’s main hospitals treating Covid-19 patients, cites the Vietnamese people for being “much more respectful of infectious diseases” after their experiences with two other outbreaks: the SARS epidemic, followed by the Avian flu infestation.
“The country understands that these need to be taken seriously and complies with guidance from the government on how to prevent the infection from spreading,” said Thwaites in the same CNN report.
Many Filipinos who take seriously the quarantine conditions that prevent or contain community transmission of Covid-19 are not waiting for the authorities to improve their handling of public communication.
Over the weekend preceding June 1, following the official announcement of the GCQ status of Cebu, netizens posted and shared reminders and memes that “stay at home” is a civic obligation required of those who do not need to leave home for work or other essential trips.
Community vigilance will help neighbors conform with physical distancing, specially in foregoing parties to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and fiestas.
Travel and trips for leisure are still banned in a community under GCQ.
While mobility restrictions are eased for some workers, employers must also implement the minimum health protocols and requirements to ensure that workers are safe. Due to limited public transportation plying the routes and increased fares due to the implemented physical distancing observed inside public utility vehicles (PUVs), employers must provide shuttle services for employees.
With businesses that provide medical and other frontline services, proper and adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) must be provided for employees, as well as rigorous sanitation and disinfection procedures undertaken, as required by the Departments of Health (DOH, Trade and Industry (DTI), and Labor and Employment (DOLE).
Alternative working arrangements should still be followed. Working from home and online meetings harmonize the productivity and safety of workers.
Transitioning from ECQ to less restrictive quarantine conditions requires the delicate balance of priorities for public health and the economy.
The best scenario proving that the authorities and employers value the welfare of workers is the provision of adequate health insurance coverage and the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test, considered by the DOH as the gold standard for Covid-19 tests.