People who refuse to wear face masks are criminals
MANILA, Philippines — With over 80,000 cases of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and rising, parts of the country, including Metro Manila, may yet again be placed under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ). Researchers from the University of the Philippines predict that by the end of August, there will be 140,000 cases nationwide.
This is a worrying development as a tightening of restrictions may deliver a fatal blow to our country’s sinking economy. MECQ will mean a return to very limited public transport options and fewer businesses operating.
The Department of Trade and Industry and the National Economic Development Authority have declared that 75 percent of the economy has reopened and 95 percent of industries have resumed operations. On the other hand, 40 percent of 998,342 micro, small and medium businesses may not survive or are on the verge of closing.
With the reimposition of stricter restrictions, the fear of an economic collapse is very real. With five months left, international and government experts are predicting a full-year contraction of anywhere from -3.85 to -4.3 percent.
Hardest hit are the 4.9 million people who lost their jobs, not including the almost 1 million overseas Filipino workers stranded abroad and recently repatriated by the foreign affairs and labor departments.
We have also hit the all-time high unemployment rate of 17.7 percent.
After 133 days of being under several types of quarantine situations, the issues of economy and COVID-19 protocols are coming to a head and must be addressed by the President.
Prevent more people from dying from COVID-19 or from dying due to hunger and poverty?
My take on this is simple. For the past nearly five months of enforcing health protocols, we’ve tried everything and people are still “pasaway (hardheaded).” I believe it’s now time to focus on reviving our economy, which is our future.
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When checking daily reports from the Department of Health on COVID-19, I look at “positivity/cumulative rates” of confirmed cases and the percentage of asymptomatic patients.
For example, on July 25, the daily positivity rate in Metro Manila was at 12.1 percent.
This means that 12 out of 100 persons who underwent swab testing were found positive. In April, this rate went to as high as 22 to 24 percent but dropped to 5 to 6 percent around May and June. On July 14, it hit 13 percent and is now averaging at 10 percent today.
Cumulative rates nationwide have also risen to 8.9 percent today, compared to only 6.9 percent last month.
If one looks at recent asymptomatic active cases, we find 9.5 percent of 52,406 cases, or 4,847 people without symptoms walking in the streets or inside their houses. Even though they have no fever, cough, sore throat and look normal, they may spread the virus. This is why all even if you do not feel any symptoms, you should wear a face mask at all times.
I’m reminded of recent World Health Organization findings that face masks protect wearers by as much as 70 percent when they are conversing with a carrier without a mask. If the carrier wears a mask, the possibility of transmission to an unmasked person drops to 5 percent. If both have a mask, it goes down further to 1.5 percent.
Meting out stiff fines on top of imprisonment to those who do not wear face masks is highly necessary. Violators should be treated as criminals because they are actually killing their fellow men.
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