Covid Reality Check

Covid Reality Check

North Miami vice mayor Alix Desulme raises his arm during a prayer for local lives lost to Covid-19 as a memorial to those lost is unveiled at Griffin Park on October 28, 2020 in North Miami, Florida. (Photo credits: CNBC/Getty Images/Joe Raedle)

The pandemic reinforces what we already know. We can’t keep people healthy if they don’t have a roof over their heads and food on the table.

— Kaiser Permanente senior vice president and chief health officer Bechara Choucair, M.D.

CALOOCAN CITY, Metro Manila — The coronavirus is simply not going away.

But in going out, I’ve seen most of us seemingly undisturbed that the virus is still there. Face masks are still worn but mostly on the chin or mouth as people talk and converse amusingly in public places and even in confined areas where the virus might spread easily—that is if one of them is unknowingly infected or is a carrier of the dreaded disease.

I’ve seen my neighbors moving around in close quarters, forgetful of the need for social or physical distancing. Indeed, they believe the coronavirus cannot infect them anymore.

Probably that’s because 72.3 million have been fully vaccinated, according to official statistics.

However, the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Covid chief noted that it was now time for a reality check on the virus after the millionth death from the disease was recorded the current year.

In a statement, WHO Covid-19 technical lead Maria Van Kerkhove enthused that the death toll was “heartbreaking” because the tests, treatments, vaccines, and public health measures to control the disease were all available: “Given we’re in the third year of the pandemic, it’s… all the more so tragic given that we have the tools that can actually prevent these deaths.”

We agree with her remark that “a lot of us have become numb to the numbers.”

So, the need for a reality check.

Importantly, we really need to take stock of where we are—especially here in the Philippines where most of our countrymen have grown complacent and have brushed aside the threat that the coronavirus still poses to our health and welfare.

“We should not be in a position with 14,000 or 15,000 people dying every week. We just shouldn’t,” Van Kerkhove had stressed, insisting that the pandemic was not over, but it could be brought to an end while people continue to live their daily lives.

That is why we just need to put a little extra thought into this—of being a wee bit more careful, not only for ourselves but for everyone as well.

And a lot of our country’s health experts and even our leaders in government are talking about living with Covid in a ‘new normal’ scenario. Have they forgotten that we need to live with this responsibly because a million deaths this year is not living with Covid and having 15,000 deaths per week is not living with the disease responsibly.”

Nearly 6.45 million deaths have been reported since the virus was first detected in Wuhan, China in late 2019 and more than 5.3 million new cases were reported to the United Nation’s health agency last week.

These are huge numbers–and that’s an underestimate because home testing is not being reflected in surveillance data.

Though we do see that the virus is not circulating intensely anymore around the world, the truth is that the virus is not going away, unfortunately.

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