A GLOBAL sub-culture of fear is spreading across social classes, races, and nations by the continuing skewed reporting on broadcast, print, and social media on the mass incidence of coronavirus pandemic. Within Negros, there is virtual developing panic as to date, there is a scarcity of hospital beds to admit new cases of Covid-19, and its fast-evolving variant forms. Daily, sad news fill the air and online feeds of stories of critically-ill patients denied hospital admission, dying literally at the threshold of their emergency rooms. What exacerbates the situation of poor patients running to the hospitals with their critically-ill loved ones is the mandatory swab testing of all incoming patients, even the dying ones.

With the set protocol for hospital admission, the poor are left without any option but to let their very ill kin die unattended by hospitals. No money for Covid-19 testing, and cash for a deposit spell refusal for hospital admission, no matter if they shed a bucket of tears and entreaties. Persistent stories pertaining to the rocketing incidence of Covid-19 and its variants call for broader, intentional and focused action of the local government.

First, we need a comprehensive public information campaign at the grassroots on Covid-19 and the nature of the pandemic itself. A question that needs to be threshed out and be made clear to the public is, if a positive Covid-19 test result should compel one to run to the hospital and seek admission. While the poor are normally readily turned away under the present crowded state of the few hospitals in Negros, those who have money and are able to pay the high cost of hospital confinement, find means to be readily admitted. A close business associate, a Tsinoy, though asymptomatic chose to be confined in an expensive private room as a preventive measure to protect himself from worsening conditions, and the spread of the virus to his family members. But really, one who tested positive for Covid-19 will, with proper care, be safer in household confinement, as he runs no risk of getting hospital acquired virus (HAV) so common even before the pandemic, in the form of pneumonia.

The truth is, hospitalization for many financially challenged Pinoys may stress them out all the more due to the fact that for every hospital act, they are charged in the thousands from the PPEs and masks that need constant changing to costly medical procedures, and expensive drugs given to them. Based on a number of cases of the lower-middle-income group admitted for Covid-19, a moderate to the severe case would end up in their being billed from 400 to 500 thousand pesos, reason enough for some to sink deeper in their distraught state. The upper-income group suffers more -- hospital and medical bills range a million pesos or more.

Knowing the high cost of falling prey to Covid-19 and its variants, a second-best response is to take proactive action against the disease. There are proven ways to avoid getting the virus, a more fundamental one -- beefing up your natural auto-immune defense system. Many succumb to the Covid-19 virus because of gross lack of sleep -- this holds true from the frontliners and “homeliners,” individuals that end up sleeping only 3-4 hours a day. While the former doesn't have real choice to stay awake 24 hours or more while on duty, the ordinary Pinoys neglect being in deep sleep as well from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. whence the body's growth hormones are most active, repairing damaged cells, and building new ones -- the whole essence of Circadian Rythmn.

A constant diet of fast food (deadly delicious crunchy fried chicken, pizza, hamburgers, etc.), instant junk food and drinks, is another factor to being easy prey to the pandemic, as the body's autoimmune defense system is grossly malnourished.

Surely a lifestyle of Netflix, crispies and junk food, or a whole night of binging on YouTube and Facebook fave sites, will lead to easy transfer of Covid-19 and its variants when exposed to it.

This indeed is an important measure that needs to be taken in rationalizing our response to Covid-19; an effective information education campaign, one that is contextualized, in the language of the “pumuluyo.”

Topmost as already mentioned, is the real need to take pre-emptive steps of beefing up one's own autoimmune defense system. Daily intake of high vitamin C rich food available in their communities, or tablet forms, with zinc.

There are many anti-Covid-19 natural food and vegetables in the barangays that the pumuluyo can secure for free, or offered in community pantries.

Barangays can also initiate purok-level group exercises of exposing their constituents to daily 20-minute exercises under the sun for a natural source of vitamin D, an anti-Covid-19 measure; exercise plus sunning, under fresh air.

Group activity observing social distancing is de-stressing and invigorating. Group worship, small group study of God's word, and prayer meetings are invaluable measures to deal with fear.

Finally, dig deeper than what daily news feed as stats on the pandemic -- discern how in the hundreds of thousands of reported Covid-19 positive cases, recovery cases ran into as high as 90 percent. Death rates in the country have not gone higher than 10 percent, on average.

It must be pointed out that there has been some kind of deception in the reporting of Covid-19 deaths. If one looks more closely into the medical data of such reported deaths, one will see that it is in most cases related to "complications" due to pre-existing chronic deadly diseases -- diabetes, kidney, heart, or cancer.

Covid deaths command more medical charges and expense not only to the patient but our universal health insurance, PhilHealth, and hospitals have allegedly been prone to reporting non-Covid-19 respiratory ailments like pneumonia as due to the pandemic, for gain. This observation, of course, needs documentation which given our manifold advocacies and social “battles,” leaves us to choose the less time-consuming.

In truth, Covid-19 is just like flu, which if effectively handled in its early stage, will not deteriorate into deadly pneumonia and subsequent death.