Southeast Asia’s COVID-19 epicenter

"What did other countries do to beat COVID-19 without the benefit of a vaccine?"


In the face of continued increase in confirmed Covid-19 cases, we should be thankful President Duterte did not place Metro Manila and other coronavirus hotbeds under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) again.

Apparently recognizing the need to give the economy the chance to recover, the President heeded the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to keep the National Capital Region (NCR) under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) for another month.

Manong Digong also approved GCQ for Batangas Province, Bacolod City, Iloilo City, Iligan City and Tacloban City.  Lanao del Sur Province and Marawi City are under ECQ.

We all understand that millions of jobs and livelihood were affected by the crisis but the persistent rise in confirmed cases of infections simply does not warrant Metro Manila’s graduation from GCQ despite health officials’ claim of a foreseen “flattening of the curve.”

I agree with most of the Metro mayors who opted for GCQ for another month, hoping and praying for a more definitive pattern of decline in the rate of increase of COVID-19 cases.

Indeed, there is a need to balance health and safety measures with steps to reopening the economy.

On the other hand, I strongly oppose the proposal of some business groups for the total lifting of the curfew in Metro Manila from 10PM through 5AM.

Exemptions may be made for workers of establishments, offices and factories who operate at night.   

But we are urging a stricter enforcement of curfew hours on the streets and public areas against loitering, social gatherings, gambling, partying, and drinking alcohol outdoors.

These are the community quarantine violations through which person-to-person transmission of COVID-19 reportedly occurred in different parts of the country.

Under GCQ, we must strive to observe social distancing and health protocols to the letter if we really want to free ourselves from community quarantine restrictions altogether. 

The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the barangay tanod members should strictly enforce the curfew hours, particularly among those 21 years old and younger. They are supposed to stay home, anyway.

It is imperative that the barangay community, particularly the young people, learn the facts about the coronavirus pandemic that has affected nearly 34 million people across the globe.

As of Wednesday September 30, the Philippines accounts for a total of 311,694 confirmed COVID-19 cases. Globally we rank 21st in number of cases. There have been 5,504 deaths here.

Note that China, a nation of over 1.4 billion people where the disease began, now ranks 44th with a total of 85,322 cases including 4,634 deaths.

That means we have more COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila—a total of 163,780—than mainland China, more than South Korea (23,889), Thailand (3,564) and Vietnam (1,094).

Inevitably, we should ask ourselves: What did those other countries do to beat COVID-19 without the benefit of a vaccine?

Was it strong leadership? Or was it the right strategy or mechanism? Or was it the broad support among their people?

Perhaps all of the above played a vital role in their success against COVID-19.

Four months ago, on May 20, we only had 13,221 total cases with 842 deaths but we already ranked first with the most number of COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia.

We still rank no. 1 and could well be known as the epicenter of COVID-19 in the region.

Topics: Erwin Tulfo , Southeast Asia , COVID-19 , Metro Manila , Enhanced Community Quarantine , ECQ , Inter-Agency Task Force , IATF , General Community Quarantine , GCQ
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