Complacency is the Culprit

Complacency is the Culprit

Health is not valued till sickness comes.

— Canadian architect and mental calculator Thomas Fuller

CALOOCAN CITY, METRO MANILA — Once again, coronavirus infection rates are on the rise. In the United Kingdom and most of Europe, the disease is surging as it is driven by newer versions of the more infectious mutation known as Omicron. Amid concerns that the surge will again disrupt businesses and add to pressure on health systems, governments are in a rush to address the recurrence—a situation they had already faced and experienced more than once before.

With an estimated number of people testing positive for Covid-19 climbing to almost 1.4 million—about one in every 40 people—in the week ending June 18, a growing concern is spreading in England. Based on the British Office for National Statistics report, this compares with around one in 50 persons in the prior week. Infections in Scotland, as well, increased to around one in 20 individuals.

New outbreaks elsewhere are also causing absences of workers from workplaces thus worsening the situation caused inadvertently by labor shortages.

Germany’s erstwhile strong economy is likewise suffering. Its Deutsche Lufthansa AG has canceled more than 3,000 flights, adding to Europe’s travel chaos as the summer vacation period gets underway. Hospitalizations and deaths are trailing far behind, making the latest spread of Covid-19 less alarming—at least for now. With large portions of the population vaccinated and boosted, Omicron is less deadly than previous variants, even though it’s more contagious.

While there have been calls for new mask mandates in some places, there’s been no broad push for a reversal of restrictions that governments put in place during the height of the pandemic. Until recently, Austria decided to scrap the law requiring Covid vaccinations that were never fully implemented, despite a recent upturn in cases.

Omicron sub-variants keep evolving, sparking fresh outbreaks across the world, and the rise in prevalence of BA.4 and BA.5 has led to a surge in hospitalizations and ICU admissions in some nations, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported last week. Still, there’s currently no evidence that they cause more severe illness than previous variants, the organization’s health officials noted.

In the Philippines, infectious diseases expert Dr. Rontgene Solante disclosed that Covid-19 cases have started to rise as positivity rates recorded in some areas are now above 10 percent, significantly higher than the 5 percent threshold recommended by WHO.

As of July 9, the University of the Philippines OCTA Research Group said NCR’s positivity rate increased from 8.3 percent to 10.9 percent. It added that positivity rates were over 10 percent in Aklan at 26.9 percent; Antique, 17.8 percent; Batangas, 11.3 percent; Capiz, 18.8 percent; Cavite, 14.9 percent; Iloilo, 11 percent; Isabela, 10.3 percent; Laguna, 18.2 percent; Nueva Ecija, 14 percent; Pampanga, 16.5 percent; Rizal, 16.6 percent; and Tarlac, 16.7 percent.

Despite this, however, OCTA noted that the healthcare utilization rate (HCUR) in many areas being monitored nationwide remained below 50 percent, which is considered low risk.

But most are asking why there is a rising number of infections when the government has already initiated to reopen the country’s economy. They argued that vaccination efforts have been successful so it is unlikely that there has been a failure in the response to the health crisis.

Yet there actually is an answer to this question—because of the steady reopening, the public is lowering its guard and we can say that growing complacency is really the culprit in the latest surge.

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