Why the virus is spreading fast | Inquirer Opinion

Why the virus is spreading fast

There are critical reasons why COVID-19 is spreading fast in our country. Our government must address them quickly for our country to get out of the hellhole it’s in right now. First, we have many asymptomatic infections, and these countrymen are going around spreading the virus undetected. For those who eventually develop symptoms, there’s a five-day incubation period when they’re asymptomatic, too, during which period they’re also undetected virus spreaders.

We have many of these undetected spreaders because the government tests only those who already have symptoms and their small circle. In other words, the government adopts a defensive mode, by reactively testing persons already showing signs of the virus. Our government is not aggressively seeking out the virus in an offensive mode by proactively testing people who are likely undetected spreaders of the unseen enemy.


Second, our government is on a mere defensive mode because it relies almost entirely on the expensive and slow PCR test. It disables itself from going on an offensive mode by maligning the much cheaper and faster antigen test. By doing so, it demonstrates its poor understanding of the ground situation.

Let me explain by citing the example of our small municipality in Cagayan province which has gone on the offensive by administering the antigen test on the following: residents who work in the provincial capital where the virus is spreading fast; all returning residents and visiting individuals who come from other cities and municipalities, and; individuals whose lines of work expose them daily to many people such as market vendors, transport drivers, policemen, and local officials. The tests are administered for free, and they have equipped our municipality with a “flashlight” to identify asymptomatic individuals and prevent them from further becoming virus spreaders. This should be the proactive stance of our local government units (LGUs), by using the easily accessible and cheaper antigen test. The PCR test may be the so-called “gold standard,” but like a square peg in a round hole, it doesn’t fit our country’s severely inadequate health facilities and our cash-strapped public coffers.


Third, our government must allay the fears that grip many of our people. These fears are engendered by reports of cities/municipalities that require those infected to pay for tests and medicines; to stay in dirty and cramped quarantine facilities and provide for their own needs; to force their families to fend for themselves, and; to be ostracized by a hostile community. Because of these fears, many people refuse to get tested, becoming unwitting conspirators of the virus. Our government must make the people its allies in the war against the virus, not treat them as enemies, by helping them in all their and their families’ needs when they get infected.

Fourth, our government must treat our health workers as heroes not only in words but in deed. It’s so appalling that health workers are getting infected because they don’t have high-quality personal protective equipment, and that their salaries are horribly delayed.

Fifth, LGUs must unflinchingly use all their budgetary funds to meet head-on the serious crisis. Save for a few exceptions, LGUs can utilize their entire budget to provide for all the medical and sustenance needs of their affected constituents. It is so outrageous to hear of LGUs that make their constituents pay for antigen tests and that refuse to provide for the complete needs of quarantined families. Virtually every item in the entire LGU budget—for children, elderly, women, persons with disabilities, solo parent, representation, training, and even a chunk of the infrastructure funds (as directed by President Duterte last year because we are still under a state of calamity)—can be realigned and slanted to provide for the emergency needs of constituents. We are in a state of war; it’s not the time for LGUs to scrimp and get dainty on the use of their funds.

We are in an ever-worsening state of emergency because our government has taken a very passive stance. It’s time for our government to take back control, and go on the offensive in this war of our generation.

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