Real and scary
How could a nanometer-sized novel pathogen suddenly change the lives of millions of people, spreading at warp speed, killing thousands of elderly and immuno-compromised individuals worldwide, creating chaos, and causing panic and anxiety?A few weeks ago, you were just strolling around Metro Manila, happily watching a movie, doing your routine commute to work or school, not minding what’s inside the refrigerator at home or washing your hands before and after touching things. But what has happened since then?
When was the last time you wore masks? The last time you meticulously washed your hands with soap and not just water, or used that sanitizer gel hanging on your back pack? When was the last time you had cough and colds and acted like it was just ordinary allergic rhinitis or seasonal flu? When was the last time you had difficulty breathing and blamed the asthma attack on that morning jog? When was the last time fever and cough were treated simply as “Ipahinga mo lang yan, anak,” and not a matter of life and death?
For that matter, when was the last time you took vitamins or your maintenance medications? When was the last time you visited emergency rooms for real emergency situations? These past days, weren’t you surprised to learn that face masks actually come in different types and for different purposes? That ethyl alcohol could be in 30-, 70- or 90-percent solutions? And that there is a proper, scientifically hygienic way of coughing?
And then there’s the more serious stuff. Now we know that many of our health workers and frontliners usually work 24 to 36 hours, some making do with only one meal a day and two hours of sleep. A frightening number of them are now considered persons under monitoring or investigation because of exposure to COVID-19; some are afraid to go back to their houses because they might spread the disease. Did you know that even before the COVID-19 scare, masks and alcohols were already in short supply in many hospitals? On the other hand, did you know that we have brilliant Filipino scientists? That we have many countrymen who are willing to sacrifice their lives just to serve and cure the sick? That not all government officials are like the usual corrupt, incompetent lot? That there are so many unsung heroes we are not able to see and recognize?
My point being, there are so many things around us that we used to ignore or failed to recognize. But in times like this, we suddenly realize so many simple but essential things—that we’ve been washing our hands wrongly, that cough etiquette exists, that disease prevention is the key from the start.
But it’s not yet too late. We can set aside our politics at this time, and realize that even though there have been lapses and failures aplenty in handling this situation, we can still be grateful and appreciative of all the efforts our leaders and health workers have been doing. Let us show empathy for each other, and be responsible citizens. We all have to do our part now. Follow the rules. All of these protocols, guidelines, health posters, orders, etc. are products of much consideration and thinking by well-meaning people. We only see and hear the consensus on the internet or TV, but not the hard work of the people behind the scenes.
The pandemic is real and scary. For many of us, it is no doubt hard to have a sense of positivity and shared progress. We are not a perfect country—in fact no country is—but this horrible virus is here. Cases are still expected to shoot up, and we continue to face the unknown. But we all have to be responsible citizens—to prevent the spread of the disease, and to do what is right: to protect the vulnerable and save lives.
Sascha Ausan, 26, is a person under monitoring for COVID-19.
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