Metro Manila and the four outlying provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal reverted to the strictest enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) today due to a never-before-seen surge in Covid-19 cases.
The ECQ in what is also known as the Greater Manila area superseded the short-lived NCR-Plus bubble and will be in effect until 4 April, Easter Sunday. It may be extended, as needed, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque warned.
Under the veritable lockdown, all people except essential workers will be required to stay at home, while critical businesses will only be allowed to operate using skeleton workforces.
Restaurants can only serve take-out and delivery orders as the alfresco dine-in option during the bubble has been disallowed. Curfew from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. will be enforced.
On the eve of the reversion of the said areas to ECQ, groceries and supermarkets were swamped with panic-buyers like what happened during the first lockdown a year ago. Déjà vu?
Why have we come to this? Why can’t there be no end in sight to this pandemic in the Philippines when global figures on new infections are consistently going down?
Is it a case of things getting worse first before they get better? Are the line-jumpers stealing the vaccine allocations of frontliners seeing apocalyptic days ahead of us, thus are pulling all strings to arm themselves with the anti-virus?
Based on the World Health Organization Covid-19 tracker, new infections worldwide peaked this year on 10 January with 870,814 cases. On that day, the Philippines logged 1,893 new infections.
By 26 March, that same tracker saw the Philippines register a single-day record high of 9,808 infections. Globally, 497,935 new infections were registered for 20 March.
For January, the global seven-day daily infection average was at 731,387, while for March, it dropped nearly by half to 459,722.
For the Philippines? Everything has gone downhill figuratively within the first quarter of the year as new infections literally skyrocketed off the charts.
The daily new infections seven-day average for the Philippines for the period ending 10 January was 1,412, while for the seven days ending 26 March the daily average stood at a mind-numbing 7,827, or over 6,000 new daily cases more!
That’s how grim the figures are for the Philippines in 2021, looking at them locally and in comparison with what’s happening in the rest of the world.
Days before the reversion to ECQ, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III attributed the rising Covid cases in the country to a lot of factors, including “quarantine fatigue.”
By that, he meant Filipinos have started to relax and see Covid-19 as just another cold virus, with many more going out unnecessarily with masks and shields worn improperly.
Naturally, the yellows were quick to blame the government over its alleged failure to secure as much Covid-19 vaccine doses, playing blind to the simple reality that there’s a short supply of the jabs.
Quarantine fatigue or not, strict enforcement of this ECQ is needed if the Philippines is to survive this second wave of infections that is more worrisome than the first.
Government will have to once again wield the baton against the protocol violators and also the vaccine line-jumpers so that it can bring down the cases as we try to bring in more vaccine doses.
And the jabs are coming. Now, if we can only stop being hard-headed.