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Viral idiocy

Now is a good time as any to be paranoid, if that paranoia would make us stay at home.

John Henry Dodson

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Among government officials, the corrupt will pounce on every chance to enrich themselves with taxpayers’ money, while the inept will always expose, through sheer stupidity, their being unfit for any public office.

A few days into the 30-day community quarantine period imposed by the national government to stop the spread of a virus that has gone viral, we are already being treated to a spectacle by fools.

The clowns starring in this circus would be funny at any other time. However, with the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) killing thousands worldwide, including nearly 500 in one day in Italy, we cannot laugh at their antics.

Social media posts on overdrive show people are enraged being saddled with idiots not only in government but everywhere. This as we find ourselves facing a virus that has the potential to decimate populations like the plague.

On Day One, when the quarantine was only in effect in Metro Manila, workers fought for scant space like sardines in tin cans aboard cramped buses and jeepneys.

Personal spaces were assaulted and people went shoulder-to-shoulder with one another, within inhaling and exhaling distance, breathing the air that others breathe.

Going home, many were herded by the police at checkpoints, again with total disregard for the social distancing prescribed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a measure to stop the spread of the contagion.

Day Two saw the entire Luzon being put on an enhanced community quarantine — a mere semantic for a lockdown. Public transportation was banned to force employers to keep skeleton workforces as others work at home, or not work at all.

With the uncertainties of a 30-day lockdown, access to food or the lack thereof prompted those who have money to resort to panic-buying, raiding grocery shelves empty, no different from those who fought in America for tissue paper with which to wipe their asses.

Not a few mayors, like Pied Pipers leading their people to doom, initiated mass feeding and relief goods-giving at municipal and city halls, dumb and clueless as to the meaning of social distancing.

Good intentioned as their actions may be, but which rocks did these mayors crawl out from to not have heard of the President’s order to mobilize barangay officials to distribute supplies door-to-door to locked-down constituents?

That’s what they did in Macau and in Wuhan City, where the virus originated, to be on track towards winning the war against this crown of thorns. That’s what we should do too if we are to survive this.

Money-wise, with the declaration of a nationwide state of calamity, government officials will have unprecedented access to funds to ensure delivery of services, food and other supplies to the poor.

While that access may be easy with the usual bidding requirements relaxed, the corrupt among them, whether local or national, should never forget that many of their ilk had been jailed for pocketing taxpayers’ money.

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Let’s not kid ourselves. Even our health officials admit that the only reason we have a relatively small number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines is that we have not been testing enough people, unlike in South Korea. Hopefully, this would be remedied by the development of our test kits by scientists from the University of the Philippines.

Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri testing positive for the virus proves the point that one may have it but not know it, without manifesting symptoms like fever, cough or difficulty breathing.

As the WHO has warned, asymptomatic spreaders may be all around us. That can be you or I, or anyone else. So, woe unto anyone who will treat this unseen but deadly enemy with a cavalier attitude for whatever the ends may be.

Now is a good time as any to be paranoid, if that paranoia would make us stay at home or — if that is not possible due to our calling as doctors, men in uniform and public service frontliners — to take all the necessary measures to not contract this virus and to be spreaders ourselves.

As for me, until this scourge is wiped off the face of the earth, I will stay in isolation at home coming from work, requisitioning our third-floor library as my lockdown zone, treating myself as an undetected, asymptomatic spreader.

No, I am not quarantining myself from my family; I am just taking the extra effort for all of us to be in the position to say that, together, we survived this coronavirus curse.

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