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
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
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
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)