THE oddest couples fighting on social media these days can be split into two camps: those who argue for exercising the utmost caution and those as noisily denying the presence of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in the country.
It would be better for public health if the former camp is dominant. However, the latter’s ranks are swelled by the silent reinforcement of citizens who are “tired of” the pandemic, particularly discussions about it, and simply go about their daily business, paying no heed to tried-and-tested methods aimed at preventing the spread of Sars-CoV-2, the virus causing Covid-19.
The “Covid fatigue” strikes many people who feel no longer compelled to observe safety measures as the pandemic enters nearly a year since the first Covid-19 cases were reported in the country.
Based on the World Health Organization (WHO) monitoring, the first imported case of Covid-19 in the Philippines was a Chinese national reported on Jan. 20, 2020. The 38-year-old female had a travel history to Wuhan, China, recovered, and returned to China.
The first cases of local transmission were the fifth and sixth persons confirmed as positive for Covid-19 in the country. The husband and wife had no history of recent travel outside the country.
The extended pandemic has led to community quarantines, unemployment, social isolation, depression and other forms of deprivation, which have added to people’s burdens.
Ironically, basic precautions to protect life and prevent community transmission, even if mandated by public authorities, are disregarded by citizens suffering Covid fatigue.
Perry N. Halkitis, dean of the Rutgers School of Public Health, noted that the Covid fatigue is a manifestation of behavioral maintenance that challenges public health advocacies, according to an article posted on rutgers.edu.
To fight epidemics or addictions, consistency of behaviors that prevent transmission or manage addictions is the key.
Posing a threat to a person’s health and that of others is the mindset rationalizing a relaxation of the vigilance against Covid-19. On Jan. 7, SunStar Cebu witnessed in a Lapu-Lapu police station the transactions between a police officer screening documents and citizens seeking authority to travel outside Cebu.
The police officer was not wearing a face mask or a face shield, which is mandated by authorities for use when one is mingling in public. While there was a desk barrier placed between the man and the public, the police officer was standing while talking down to the transacting person, rendering the barrier useless against droplets of saliva.
Near this police station is a roadside store with a queue of citizens seeking to photocopy documents. Mandatory physical distancing was not observed in the queue. The person operating the copier machine was not wearing a face mask and face shield. Transactions required this person and the citizen to converse.
This slice of life among public and private stakeholders is replicated in many places in the country. The behaviors that put the public at risk of spreading or being contaminated by the Sars-CoV-2 causing Covid-19 can easily turn one positive case into a “superspreader.”
According to Halkitis, superspreaders can be events or persons with the ability to accelerate the spread of infections.
It is crucial for every citizen to be on guard against Covid fatigue so as not to exacerbate this health crisis.