Malilong: ECQ or MECQ, it does not really matter

The Other Side

THE guessing game is over. We are still under enhanced community quarantine, albeit modified.

This is our first experience with the modified ECQ so we are not familiar with how it works: what businesses can reopen and what activities are allowed. We only have hints, mostly from social media, so we will have to wait for the executive order to be issued by Mayor Edgar Labella to get a clearer picture.

One thing is certain, though: we still have to observe the same protocols that the government has issued to stop the coronavirus from spreading. That means we cannot go out as frequently as we please us and when we have to go out, we should wear a mask.

It is embarrassing that the Special Action Forces and other police and military personnel have to be summoned to make us obey the regulations that were intended to protect us. It is even more embarrassing that we continue to defy these rules. Some of us are just plain hardheaded.

Last week, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, who oversees the battle with the coronavirus in Cebu, was confident that our city would finally be relieved of the dubious distinction of being the only remaining local government unit to be placed under the strictest form of quarantine. But he added that for that to happen, the people have to cooperate. Did we fall short in that regard or is the enemy too difficult to defeat?

They're saying, of course, that our situation in Cebu has improved since the government in Manila took a direct hand in stopping the coronavirus from overwhelming us. As I said in yesterday's column, I wish they can show us how the progress is being measured. The only performance indicators I could think of are the numbers showing occurrences of infection, death and recovery on a daily basis.

But I am willing to go along that we have seen an improvement in the situation, although not enough to persuade them to relax the restrictions better than just modifying the ECQ. The revelation by DOH Regional Director Jaime Bernadas that the critical utilization rate in our hospitals has improved is encouraging even if we do not know if the improvement is due to the decrease in the number of Covid patients who need hospitalization or the allocation by the hospitals of additional isolation beds.

Incidentally, whatever happened to the promise to send reinforcements from the other regions to ease the pressure on our overworked doctors and nurses? Have they arrived already? How many are they who are still here? The last time I heard, some of the doctors who were pulled out from their assignments so that they can be temporarily transferred to Cebu were protesting their deployment.

And speaking of nurses, sometime last month, when local hospitals were swamped with Covid patients, it was reported that the morale of these frontliners was low and that they were on the verge of quitting. Happily no such thing occurred. We should be grateful that they chose to uphold their oath over fleeing to relative safety by resigning.

Overworked and unappreciated medical frontliners are not peculiar to our country. In Egypt, doctors had to purchase their own surgical masks while dentists and pharmacists were forced to handle suspected virus patients with little training. When they complained publicly, the government sent soldiers to arrest them.

Our situation is far from ideal but we're a lot better off than them and many others.


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