"Here are some suggestions."
This third strict lockdown in the past 18 months of the pandemic gives us the opportunity to review and rethink our coping measures thus far. This pandemic will not go away anytime soon. In fact, if we go by the record of the last major pandemic which hit the world in modern times, the 1918 Spanish flu, the same was tamed five years after leaving in its wake millions of deaths and a devastated global economy.
Of course, the world has evolved many times over since then. Scientific research and discoveries, not to mention health care systems, have since matured and grown by leaps and bounds. We have gone to space, conquered depths and gotten hold of the needed measures to tame the beasts and ravages of nature to the point of inducing cell changing technologies and related biological transforming techniques, not only in people but animals This is why in the case of COVID- 19, there is a lingering heated debate about its very nature. More and more scientists are now doubting the original WHO prognosis that the virus evolved naturally from bats to humans with the man-made lab leak theory gaining traction as a possible source of this deadly disease. This ongoing debate coupled with the problems associated with the unresolved issues surrounding our main "go to measure" to contain the pandemic, the accelerated and equitable vaccine roll out plan worldwide, should prod us to review and rethink our very own measures at this point.
If we properly educate and inform the public about this virus, we can better ensure that we face up to the challenge of combating this disease as one nation, not as disparate entities pulling in all kinds of directions. Have we put in place the needed protocols from border controls to the standard SDMHW (social distancing, mask and hand washing) mandates, noting in the process that battling the virus begins and ends with each and every individual taking care of themselves, their families and their communities? Have we also measured up in enhancing our health care system with the needed personnel, equipment and related resources to withstand any surges either in all of the country or just a part of it? Are our local government units properly armed with the needed information and resources to serve as "circuit breakers" and deter the transmission of the virus? Have we updated and connected ourselves to the global pandemic coping system starting with the WHO and the regional health care groupings specially with our neighbors in ASEAN?
And, equally important, have we been able to properly implement measures meant to balance the "life and livelihood" imperatives of the situation? It is this balance which we should at all times be on the lookout for if we are to responsibly get the country on the right track to a new and sustainable normal.
In this regard, the IATF and the National COVID-19 Task Force may want to consider a number of common sense measures which may be put in place while waiting for the national vaccination roll out to take its proper course.
First, in addition to the cash aid (ayuda) which government is obliged to provide under any kind of lockdown (ECQ,MECQ,GCQ,etc) it may be wise to consider providing each and every household in the most vulnerable areas a kind of home care kit containing the most basic prophylactic and possibly treatment drugs or supplements to limit hospitalizations to the most severe cases. Such a kit may contain the wonder drug ivermectin, paracetamol, Vitamin C and other supplements.
Second, reconsider the use of face shields anywhere. Up to now, I have yet to come across a scientific study suggesting that having a face shield on top of wearing a mask adds protection to any significant degree. In fact, wearing it on the outside may even cause more harm than good. We are probably the only country in the world mandating the universal use of face shields. It is good that we have done away with that ridiculous order mandating the putting up of a plastic barrier in "tandem riding motorcycles." And while we are at it, maybe it is time to check whether there is still a need to put plastics in passenger jeepneys and even buses. Why don't we just enforce the standard seating limits instead of having those plastics.
Finally, there has to be a way for families and even communities to be able to move around in their respective spaces to exercise and meet and greet under strict contact measures to breathe some fresh air, loosen up and get back part of their pre-pandemic life in place. That will probably lessen tensions, deter possible mental health issues and make body and spirit less vulnerable to the ravages of this pandemic.