No photo available

18 views - 3 months ago

New strain spreading?

Is the new, more contagious strain of coronavirus now spreading in the Philippines? I ask this question after a Filipina domestic worker tested negative for the coronavirus in Manila last December 2020. However, she tested positive of the new variant after her arrival in Hong Kong on December 22.

I worry because the Philippines reportedly does not yet have that capacity to test for the new variant. What we have are tests that can recognize the original virus genome. However, I was told by a reliable source that we still need to gain the capacity to test for the new variant. Because of this, how do we know the new variant is already spreading in the country undetected?

 Moreover, the people who had been vaccinated in the country so far used smuggled vaccines. Thanks to President Rodrigo Duterte for telling the country about the inoculation of Filipino soldiers. It seems the president finds it okay for his soldiers to use something smuggled. No wonder, the administration lacks credibility in its so-called anti-corruption campaign. The country still needs to legally acquire vaccines for the rest of the population.

This is happening while positive cases in Cebu City are rising again. This began when a doctor, who turned out to be positive later, arrived to operate on a patient in Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) last December. The latest I read, the number of positive cases among doctors and nurses from the hospital alone reached over 30. The contact tracing operations now include their families.

Finally, authorities seemed helpless in ensuring social distancing during religious super-spreader events. In Manila, tens of thousands have turned up for the Black Nazarene procession. Cebu City authorities may have cancelled Sinulog activities. But thousands have been flocking to the daily novenas for the feast of Señor Santo Niño.

The way I see it, the Cebu City government lacked a vigorous information drive in making religious folks grasp the need to stay at home. One can pray to God anywhere. There is no need for physical presence inside the Church. Creative ways online can be used to keep the population virtually engaged and from gathering in mass. However, I see nothing of the sort

No unity

Unlike the unity of Ilongos under Mayor Jerry Treñas in planning and carrying out Dinagyang Digital, the leadership in Cebu City showed disunity. Late last year, Mayor Edgar Labella turned over to an excited Vice Mayor Mike Rama the conduct of Sinulog 2021. I thought Rama would receive all the support he needed from all Sinulog stakeholders. However, it seems the office of the vice mayor and the Sinulog Foundation has not coordinated with the Regional Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases in Central Visayas (RIATF-7) and the local police. This led to the cancellation of Sinulog activities. (Emmanuel Mongaya is co-founder and director for Strategic PR of the Cebu-based PRWorks Inc. He is also a member of the Political Officers League of the Philippines)