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Kris-Crossing Mindanao

No PPE against idiocy

The term “personal protective equipment” (PPE) has recently entered into the expanding lexicon and list of acronyms associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. All medical practitioners providing badly needed health service for COVID-19 patients are required to don this quite unwieldy type of protective garb to ensure they will not end up being infected themselves.

New acronyms, words, and terms have entered into ordinary people’s consciousness, like lockdown, quarantine, Inter-Agency Task Force or IATF, locally stranded individuals or LSI, flattening the curve, among others. The list gets longer as we continue to see a spike in the number of cases on a daily basis. As of Saturday, July 25, COVID-19 cases in the country have reached 78,000+.

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The speedy increase in the number of cases nationwide is a source of bewilderment to many because our neighbors in Southeast Asia have already shown that they are slowly on the way out of harm’s way as far as COVID-19 transmission is concerned. Even smaller countries with a higher poverty rate than ours, like Laos and Cambodia, have very small number of cases, and with zero deaths. This has made the Philippines a worrisome case.

So what factors have contributed to this steadily increasing number of cases? The government has tried draconian measures such as enhanced community quarantine, border lockdowns, and even house-to-house “hunting” of suspected COVID-19 positive cases. President Duterte also created the National Task Force Against COVID-19 with mostly former military generals at the helm based on the flawed assumption that this crisis needs a strong, military-led response. In my everyday life in the kitchen, this is like using a hammer to cut up meat for cooking.

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How has the national government responded to this crisis at its outset?

If we recall, when the first few cases of patients infected with the novel coronavirus (nCoV, as it was referred to then) were reported, it was met with the usual cavalier way the President reacts to any problem or impending crisis. The President also said that like all other epidemics that have come our way, COVID-19 will just die a natural death. His band of obsequious Cabinet members, especially the health secretary, also said the government was ready to handle COVID-19 cases — so no reason to worry.

Fast forward six months later and here we are, with the second highest number of infections among Southeast Asian countries, and the cases continue to increase on a daily basis.

Lately, Mr. Duterte was quoted to have suggested some of the most idiotic ways of making ourselves safe from COVID-19 infection: “You can wash your face masks with diesel or gasoline so the virus will be killed,“ or something to that effect. I wonder who between him and US President Donald Trump has made the more witless suggestion. Some time back, Trump enjoined Americans to inject themselves with disinfectants to kill the coronavirus. Another brainless remark on the coronavirus was attributed to Jair Bolsonaro, the Brazilian president and a diehard Trump ally. He once called the virus just “a little flu”; he was recently reported to be COVID-19 positive. In addition, Brazil is second to the United States in terms of the rising number of COVID-19 cases as of July 25.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque lost no time defending Mr. Duterte’s pronouncements on the use of fuel to disinfect used face masks. The President was just joking, Roque justified, chortling, and added that it was no longer surprising since he was known to crack jokes every now and then.

If we have been led through this crisis with the President’s kind of jokes, then we are not laughing—it makes us even more scared of COVID-19.

Unfortunately, no PPE — even the most costly ones — can protect us from this joke of a leadership.

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TAGS: Duterte administration, idiocy in government, Kris-Crossing Mindanao, Rodrigo Duterte, Rufa Cagoco-Guiam
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