It has been over a year now and the COVID-19 pandemic is still plaguing the world in spite of the rollout of different vaccines against it. While other countries started to ease their health protocols and restrictions, here come several mutated strains that continue to threaten the lives of the people on a global scale.
Health experts claim that the Delta variant is known to be more infectious compared to other mutated viruses from what is now known as SARS-CoV-2 or the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2.
A number of countries are now experiencing a surge of COVID-19 cases, while the Philippines will impose another lockdown, or what government officials call Enhanced Community Quarantine, in the National Capital Region and other areas starting August 5 to 20. The quarantine status in the country has never been lifted since April last year, although some measures were implemented to open up the economy although not entirely the same as before the pandemic.
This is not the first time that this coronavirus causing COVID-19 disease surfaced. The same virus was known to cause the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in the past. Several scientific investigations assert that coronaviruses emanate from bats either by direct contamination to humans or through intermediary animals. This is the case of the SARS-CoV-2, which seemingly created a standstill worldwide last year. This virus was reportedly started in a wet market in Wuhan, China, where wildlife trading was noted.
Before the pandemic, China had tolerated wildlife trading, and, in fact, several Chinese nationals were caught engaging in such activity here in the Philippines. Most of the popular species found in possession of these Chinese nationals were marine turtles and other marine species and pangolins with the latter known to be the favored source of meat in some delicacies in China. I was able to read an article claiming that the pangolins might be the intermediary species that transmitted the virus from bats to humans.
In spite of millions having already been infected and died due to COVID-19 globally, there are persons who are still in doubt about the veracity of the disease as some of its symptoms are just similar to typical flu. However, there are persons who have been infected with the virus but did not feel any symptoms at all, which makes the disease even more infectious and dangerous.
The contamination of viruses usually occurs when there are direct interactions between people and wildlife. This interaction usually happens in wildlife trade and hunting. Some experts pointed out that the dislocation of wildlife from their habitats due to deforestation might likely cause the spread of the virus, especially when species of wildlife start to frequent in populated areas.
It is only natural for wildlife to host some viruses because they are part of their immune system but may also be deadly to people when transmitted. We should always think that a single virus from wildlife may result in the disruption of the world’s social, cultural, and economic affairs, and worst, will cause the death of millions. Who would ever think that in our lifetime we would experience the difficulty in dealing with our daily routines and observe health protocols of social distancing and wear face masks and shields when in public places.
The impacts of COVID-19 seem immeasurable, as even our emotional and psychological state is affected. While we don’t need to panic, it is not unlikely that we will feel apprehension and anxiety in the security of our lives from the disease, as we are not even sure when it will finally end.
Sometimes, I can’t help but think that nature is striking back at us, people, because of the neglect, exploitation, and abuse we inflicted on our planet Earth. As I have been saying, we don’t need to be experts to see what’s happening to our natural environment. Vast tracts of the world’s forests are gone. We did not only pollute the air, land, bodies of water, and seas, but including the atmosphere that caused the destruction of the ozone layer, which shields us from the extreme and deadly heat of the sun.
Our coastal and marine resources are declining in quantity and quality, while our freshwater sources are in danger. Drinking water is now a commercial commodity. The Earth’s natural systems are already impaired and some damages we created are already irreversible. The natural hazards and risks we face now are tremendous and deadly, and here we are in the midst of a global pandemic.*