After nearly two months since the outbreak of the Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) – WHO’s new name for the nCoV – speed of global spread is starting to slow down but not enough for governments to let their guard down.
Dr. Lulu Bravo, a local expert on infectious disease vaccines, saw a positive development with Filipinos getting aware of proper hygiene practices that help prevent further contamination.
COVID-19 can be worse than the 9-11 terror attack on New York’s World Trade Center – 9-11 may have more casualties and raised security awareness around the world; COVID-19 though affected dozens of countries and tens of thousands affected with possibly more in the coming weeks.
Governments have not only restricted air and land travel, many are already banning large gatherings and locked down city-wide areas.
Local tourism has been affected, to as much as P22.7 billion per month, for losses to airlines, resorts, hotels, etc. – according to NEDA. Flight cancellations from China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan due to COVID-19 have reached 465 per week.
On top of revenue losses, tourism officials expect as many as 30,000 to 95,000 workers will lose their jobs.
One extreme reaction came from the New Zealand government that is barring Filipino students from entering their local schools until they undergo the requisite 14-day quarantine.
A local bank economist projected that if the COVID-19 pandemic persists for the next six months, economic growth will decelerate to a nine-year low of 5.8% for 2020, lower than the 5.9 GDP growth registered in 2019. And that’s not factoring in the economic impact of various natural calamities to hit us in the next 10 months.
Pres. Rodrigo Duterte managed to add the COVID-19 handling to his list of bungled issues, including the scrapping of the VFA, non-renewal of ABS-CBN franchise, eradicating illegal drugs in six months, protecting the Philippine exclusive economic zone, etc.
Malacanang earlier decided to include Taiwan in the list of countries where travel is temporarily banned simply because of the one-China policy. The ban was later lifted. The Taiwanese government warned of retaliating by imposing visa requirement for Filipinos entering their island.
That would give Duterte a dose of his own medicine – whimsical decisions affecting many.
Like Trump (who sanctioned the assassination of a top Iranian general), Duterte should not be trusted with critical assets like nuclear codes, if we ever had one.
The country is already reeling from Duterte’s ill-thought decisions – the VFA abrogation alone will take years to correct – and we are sorely dependent on government to fight COVID-19 with a heavily slashed calamity fund.
Dr. Lulu Bravo pointed out that our country has yet to manage the high child mortality rate from pneumonia while being confronted by COVID-19. Our health officials has not done enough research on pneumonia under local conditions so an appropriate vaccine can be picked. The issue mirrors the dengvaxia controversy that favored a particular pharmaceutical company which sold us a deadly vaccine for a hefty amount of course.
Choosing the right COVID-19 vaccine will have greedy government officials and politicians dipping their dirty hands on the selection process.
We better prepare handling the epidemic by ourselves, without government help.