It has been a year or so that we have endured every category of quarantine restrictions, from the strictest Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) to Modified General Community Quarantine (MECQ).
In the latest Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) resolution, they recommended the President to impose the quarantine protocol restrictions back to ECQ in National Capital Region, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal.
Similarly, Octa Research, a group studying the pandemic situation in the Philippines, had also made a recommendation to place Greater Manila to MECQ for two weeks to prevent the rise of cases in the country.
It will be a repeat of last year’s situation: people forced to stay inside their homes for who knows how long as businesses are put at a standstill again. The working sector either has to pick between losing their jobs or go hungry.
Other countries are slowly getting through the pandemic: rolling out vaccines, lessening the use of face masks, children going back to school for face-to-face classes, and returning to normal transportation services.
To give them the benefit of the doubt, the Department of Health (DOH) claims that the sudden increase of the COVID-19 cases in the past few weeks is one reason that led to implementing ECQ again. Moreover, almost all hospitals are in full capacity and many health workers have contracted the virus. By implementing ECQ, it can help slow down the spread of the virus and provide adequate time for the public health system to recover.
The health system indeed needs to recover, but they need more than that.
Hospitals and other health facilities need more financial support to purchase more oxygen machines, ventilators, and medical supplies for COVID-19 patients. Health workers should be guaranteed to hazard pay and other benefits, receive their salaries on time, and a vaccine for immunity. Most importantly, they shouldn’t be overexploited.
Is a one-week lockdown enough as an effective response in decreasing active cases in the long run? Or is it just an ephemeral solution just so the government can say that they have done a great job in giving solutions to the crisis? Will the sacrifice of every frontliner and every Filipino out there be worthy because, after a week, everything is guaranteed to be fine?
We have been through this once and we are here again. When will the government realize that after all this time, this is not the best response to the health problem?
Implementing the strictest quarantine protocol would be useless without the proper response from the government. Without the competence of leaders to strive for the safety of the country, centralizing and improving contact-tracing protocols, maintaining quarantine treatment facilities, and organizing vaccine roll-out, lockdowns would be pointless.
Band-aids don’t fix bullet holes.
A week lockdown is just a band-aid solution to the health crisis in the country.