An uptown arcade has a crowd favorite: boxes of goods that draw buyers and plain gawkers who stand close to each other in the narrow spaces in between the clear transparent boxes that contain various imported commodities coveted by the trendsetters and the collectors. Face masks are inconspicuously absent among the “unboxing” afficionados.

During peak times, commuters squeeze inside the Beeps ferrying passengers. Though the units are designed with plenty of space for comfortable seating, passengers standing in the aisles press against seated ones. Many passengers do not wear face masks; a person coughing or sneezing cannot turn away his or her face from anyone due to the overcrowding.

Last May 5, United Nations (UN) World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared with “great hope” the “end of (coronavirus disease) Covid-19 as a public health emergency.”

Given that the Covid-19 claims a life every three minutes — based on the WHO’s monitoring last week — the UN director-general underscored the importance of continuing caution in managing life with Covid-19.

“It does not mean the disease is no longer a global threat,” said Ghebreyesus.

Based on the WHO’s Coronavirus Dashboard, there are more than 765 million cases of Covid-19 globally, with nearly seven million deaths.

As of April 30, the WHO monitored more than 13 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines administered worldwide.

“It is still killing and it is still changing. The risk remains of new variants emerging that cause new surges in cases and deaths,” said the WHO director-general.

The WHO’s advisory ending Covid-19 as a public health emergency should not encourage complacency and misplaced overconfidence, especially for countries whose public health vulnerabilities and challenges were exposed during the more than two years of Covid-19 pandemic.

The realities of living with the Covid-19 challenge persons and institutions to continue being proactive and responsive in implementing precautionary and mitigating measures for dealing with localized cases.

Recently, the University of the Philippines (UP) Cebu and Baguio suspended on-campus classes due to rising cases of the Covid-19.

Both campus administrations are implementing blended learning, with synchronous online and asynchronous sessions, during a limited period to allow classes to continue without exposing students, faculty, and other constituents to needless health risks.

According to reports, UP Los Baños will resume booster vaccinations to respond to the nationwide rising cases of Covid-19.

In Bicol, the Department of Education authorized schools to shift to blended learning due to rising cases of Covid-19.

The political will and flexibility to balance health and safety with education goals are positive manifestations of the educational sector’s responsiveness to living with the Covid-19.

Ghebreyesus pointed out that in the rush to resume life as it was before the pandemic, there should also be reflection to learn from the experiences of dealing with and surviving the Covid-19.

Aside from the high costs of economic, social, and health dislocations that will continue to be felt long after the virus ceases to be regarded by health specialists as a public health emergency, the WHO director-general said that the pandemic “exposed political fault lines, within and between nations. It has eroded trust between people, governments and institutions, fuelled by a torrent of mis- and disinformation.”

The importance of communication in creating a climate of trust cannot be overstated. Even as the world seeks to restore economic activities and social mobility to a semblance of pre-pandemic normality, the efforts to emphasize the responsibility each one has for other’s health and safety have to be sustained.

Survival and wellness remain the universal ideals, deserving every citizen’s and institution’s preparedness and cooperation.