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Rough Cuts | What the pandemic has exposed

The Corona Virus 19 pandemic which has brought the countries of the world on their knees has exposed a lot of things among leaders and the people themselves. Among those brought to the surface by the health crisis are the strengths and weaknesses of leaders of governments, the surprisingly low level of preparedness to handle the problem even by the richest of countries in the world, and the unusual strength of character of some people in proceeding with their brand of response to the emergency.

Who would ever believe that the United States of America (USA), acknowledged to be the most modern and advanced in technology in the world, one of the most economically stable economies globally, and a country known to have disciplined citizens would end up having the most number of deaths as a consequence of the corona virus infection?

Who would ever think that US hospitals have problems of lack of personal protective equipment; of rooms and facilities to accommodate CoViD 19 victims needing confinement; of morgue facilities to store the CoViD dead; and of health professionals and related service providers?

Who would have thought that the US, despite its vaunted possession of the latest and most sophisticated technological equipment and known highly-skilled people in the medical and/or pharmaceutical fields would end up still scrambling in their search for a vaccine against the virus and the medicine that would cure those who are sick with it?

And what could be worst is that the US, according to its own media, seems to have the misfortune of having a President who creates his own stories of that country’s saga in confronting the health pandemic that has already killed more than 20 thousand people since it started in the country less than three months ago?

Yes, the people of the United States have found to their chagrin, that they have a President in Donald Trump who touted earlier that his country is indestructible by the CoViD attack; that the Americans are far from vulnerable to the deadly disease.

And Trump appears to be a non-believer of his own advisers that include the best among medical practitioners and health facility executives.

That is why the American media have no qualms portraying the US President as the creator of his own stories about the CoViD emergency literally sweeping his country. And in his version he is the only main character.

Without doubt therefore, this could be the reason why as of last Sunday, April 12, the US already registered CoViD deaths totaling 20,608 from confirmed cases of 501,618.

By the end of this day the dead could already be nearing, or may even possibly have breached the 25 thousand mark.

This ironically, is happening in a country that many assume to be beyond the reach of health epidemics because of its modern technology-aided facilities like its hospitals, medical laboratories, and even modes of handling the infirmed persons; in a country with a population of still less than four hundred million people based on a 2014 figure of 316,668,567 provided in a US Almanac publication.

Now we have our own country, the Philippines, with a population of about 108 million as of latest census.

As of last week-end the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on CoViD 19 reported a figure of about five thousand confirmed CoViD cases in the entire country with a death toll of 247 people. By ratio and proportion, compared to that of the US, it would appear that our government and people are handling the pandemic much better than that of the former country. And that is in spite of its advantage over our Philippines in terms of modern health facilities, technology, number of health and medical related workers, financial resources, as well as other emergency response requirements.

Yet, there are still a lot of pessimists including those with political motives, who keep on questioning the capability and the perceived weakness of our government’s response mechanisms and approaches.

And there are still a good number among us Filipinos who prefer to maintain our misplaced prejudices against people in government and front liners who are working 24/7 to make sure that our fight against the unseen yet very deadly enemy are carried on to the finish.

Of course people from outside the country who are themselves universally acknowledged as experts in dealing with health emergencies, never cease to express their satisfaction of how the Philippine authorities and front liners are handling the situation.

One of them is Dr. Takeshi Kasai, a Japanese World Health Organization (WHO) Director for Western Pacific. In an interview with Pia Hontiveros of CNN Philippines last Sunday, Dr. Kasai was unabashed in his appreciation of the Philippine government’s action of issuing lockdown orders in areas of the country considered most vulnerable to the virus.

The WHO executive also expressed support to the extension of the lockdown duration and recommended that the government continues to impose the Stay-at-Home mandate as well as social distancing and hand washing.

As to issues on lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), hospital beds, isolation spaces, and even medical supplies, Dr. Kasai was quick to tell the anchorwoman that all other countries like the US, Italy and others are also experiencing the same problem.

In other words, the WHO Western Pacific director was saying that in any emergency not expected to happen and has happened for the very first time, it is not uncommon that governments and people would find themselves groping in the dark searching for the most effective ways in dealing with the crisis and its attendant problems.

Good thing that aside from Dr. Kasai, we now have from among us people doing their share in the fight against the pandemic. And they are making their moves seen and their voices louder so their actions can be seen and heard.

Now this sector of the Philippine population is drowning the voices of the perennial critics and continually unappreciative among us.

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