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We all have to sacrifice. Call it civic duty, or whatever. But the point is, we have to swallow the bitter pill if we are to get rid of this contagion.

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Stay-in.

That was the “it” term at the time people were isolated from the outside world by Ferdinand Marcos’ martial law in the Seventies. That meant staying indoors from midnight to 5 a.m. lest you get hauled to a detention facility at the height of the dictator’s one-man rule.

Despite that era’s curfew hours, teenagers still found a way of socializing and getting rid of that itch to have a nightlife. They enclosed themselves in disco houses and danced the night away without going out to the streets littered with police and Metrocom personnel enforcing the curfew.

Roads were deserted, Army trucks and vans were on the prowl and people stayed indoors for fear of “getting invited” for questioning.

Those scenes were nearly replicated by the recent imposition of a Luzon-wide lockdown. Only this time, the restriction was not directed at any particular group out to overthrow the government but to an unseen enemy that has obliterated thousands and threatens to annihilate humanity.

That enemy knows no national borders, no social bounds, no political system and no cultural values. But it hit us just as hard. It levelled the world.

Now there are different buzzwords attuned to the lockdown: Work from home. Stay-at-home. Skype conference. Online concert. E-numan. Just about everything that lets you get on with life despite the restrictions.

Facing the pandemic, it is not what happens that matters, but how we respond. The government is only doing what it should to stem the tide of the infection. Even if that means taking away some of our liberties. And yes, way of life.

The critics and the bashers among us would always say it is a violation of our individual rights. Actually, the balance between individual rights and public safety is always an ever-changing equation.

After 9/11, almost all the airports in the world started to impose draconian safety checks, and people accepted it because we traded a little of our freedom for the greater good of the public. The delicate balance has to be tilted in favor of what’s good for the majority.

And that was probably what the Chinese, faced with the dilemma of a virus threatening to overwhelm them, did to slow down the enemy.

For almost a month, the deadly novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 infected thousands in Wuhan in a day and every hospital bed was occupied. Now empty beds and closed wards are all you can see in the city considered as Ground Zero of the worldwide pandemic.

How did China do it?

For a virus that needs person-to-person transmission in order to spread, what the Chinese government did was to take an extreme, draconian and aggressive measure that spells L-O-C-K-D-O-W-N. The response broke the virus cycle on a scale unprecedented in history.

As of last reporting, the World Health Organization (WHO) said no new cases have been reported in the virus epicenter for the first time since it reported the first case in December.
The development, according to WHO, has given the rest of the world hope in the battle against the pandemic that has infected over 300,000 people and killed more than 13,000 in nearly 200 countries.

Although the Philippines has recorded only 35 deaths from over 500 cases reported so far, the government has not taken chances. It has imposed a Luzon-wide quarantine as early as Monday last week to slow down the pandemic and buy time before it overwhelms our health care system.

The Department of Health says it’s only a matter of time before we see figures climb.

We all have to sacrifice. Call it civic duty, or whatever. But the point is, we have to swallow the bitter pill if we are to get rid of this contagion.

Email: mannyangeles27@gmail.com

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