This little virus
Everyone is in panic. A few months back, news was all over about a new strain of coronavirus that hit China. Many thought it wouldn’t escalate into something like this — at least there were some who did, but their voices were silenced.
Forget about those books that prophesied that a pandemic like this would happen. The least we can do now is to curb the escalating number of patients who are testing positive, as well as those who are still waiting for their results, and of course the mortality that may come along.
In a TED talk a few years back, Bill Gates said we are not yet ready for the next outbreak. Epidemics, or pandemics in the larger scale, often happen due to various factors. Viral mutations, individual health status, hygienic practices, health facility availability and personnel preparedness always come into play. Is there really a way that we can easily kick this pandemic out? Perhaps the first lesson we can learn is that pandemics can happen anytime, to any mass of people. It knows no race, religious affiliation, or economic status.
Accepting that we missed the preparation part and that we are now in the damage control stage of this pandemic will help us redirect our goals. In the hospital where I work, there is an interplay between measures that could have been done to prevent it and measures to contain its spread. Simple hand-washing could have prevented this outbreak from the get-go, and social distancing helps to stop its spread; these two work together to contain the problem in the simplest way. So the second lesson we can learn is that preventive and curative approaches will both work best for something like this. There’s no time for whining about why we missed the boat in the past.
My daily dealings in the hospital with my fellow physicians and other health care providers have become better. Interdepartmental referrals are now being performed easily, communication is made clearer, and sharing information regarding this disease has been much appreciated, all because we have one common goal. Sometimes, I even think: What if every day is like this, would it make us better physicians? The third lesson I can see is open communication. When both ends speak up clearly and fairly, there’s no way we can’t give our best to our patients.
Numbers keep rising. Graphs show us that we are still in the crisis phase, the spread could continue, supplies may eventually be depleted, and mortality may still increase. When we’re afraid enough about contracting the disease, and share that fear with our family and friends, then we will keep ourselves at home and stop its spread. Well, at least for you. I will still have to wake up at 6 a.m. to go to work, since this is my share in helping reduce the numbers of those afflicted with the disease.
It took this little virus for us to realize that we can do daily tasks with discipline, systematically. From forming a well-spaced queue when buying commodities, to doing hygienic practices that could have spared us from other viral infections in the past.
It took this little virus for us to realize that acquiring essential supplies like face masks and disinfectants in massive amounts, all for the sake of preparing ourselves, is altogether useless if we do not provide the same protection to our health workers and law enforcers.
I hope that we stop the hate and complaints, but cooperate instead. Since we do not know when this virus will eventually be controlled or when a definitive cure will come out, let us refrain from sharing fake news and engaging in greedy practices. At this stage of the pandemic, compliance with preventive measures and health advisories is the duty of every responsible citizen. Perhaps COVID-19 is a wake-up call for us to shape up.
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Marl Andrew B. Valdez is a 27-year-old physician currently working in a government medical center in Davao City.
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