Ignorance or indifference?

Whenever I get a chance to go out (which is very seldom) I usually go around town just to see how things are and to validate posts on social media, that indeed, people are casually roaming around and some are not practicing the minimum health standards imposed.

Many do wear masks but you can also see people by the side of the roads in twos or groups, chit-chatting with their masks on their chins, and even some within view of enforcers.

And then you have that mass gathering at the Public Plaza and the DSSD satellite office purportedly because they received a text message to go there and claim their financial assistance. Of course, I believe some reports that perhaps, many of those who went there, probably did not get any text at all but just joined the people congregating there.

DSSD has been silent about this incident but that’s better than making light of such incidents as it did in that mass gathering at the government center when they were also supposed to distribute financial assistance.

You can let it pass one time, but when the same thing happens twice, then there is really something skewed in their thought-process. At least this time around, the city did not come out to say that the gathering was politically motivated as it did in that NGC incident.

So too in that tragic traffic accident on Wednesday, November 11, along Lacson-San Sebastian streets that involved an ambulance, an SUV, and a delivery van. You can see a swarm just watching the rescue team without a care in the world for their own safety.

It makes you wonder whether it is simply ignorance despite the number of COVID cases we have or people are simply complacent now that restrictions have been eased. It seems many are indifferent and feel invincible about COVID lately.

Curiosity killed the cat they say and this is especially true in this time of pandemic when people forget their own safety just so they can get front seats to a crime scene. I just hope none of those onlookers got infected. I really do not understand why people are drawn to gory stuff like that when mere footages of the wreckage with blood strewn all over already made me squeamish. Why? For bragging rights?

Or that merry-making at the Art District which led to a lot of young people partying sans masks. The organizers said it went beyond their control and they already faced the city council to explain the incident.

Or the resorts in Punta Taytay that were locked down recently after it was monitored that many resorts opened and allowed gathering of people even while we are still under general community quarantine. Worse, according to the authorities, the visitors were not following health protocols.

In an interview, Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran said that apart from the fact that opening up was an illegal act, the village chief of that barangay has been infected with COVID and it is in fourth place among barangays with the highest number of cases.

These incidents are the reason why many are urging the city council to amend the local law that penalizes only individuals who violate health protocols and to include establishment owners who are not strictly ensuring that these protocols are being followed by their clients.

And I agree to that idea because establishments are as culpable as their clients for non-compliance if they do not remind or ban altogether these customers who are not following minimum health protocols.

While we have to be thankful that the number of new cases here have dwindled down to low double digits and sometimes less than 10 cases a day, we are still the topnotcher in Western Visayas and more troubling are the number of deaths from COVID with over 20 people dying just this November alone.

This, said El Cid, is the reason why they continue to advocate for people to seek immediate help when they feel any of the symptoms because “early detection can save you.” He added that many of those who died from COVID sought help late in the day when the system has now been designed that anyone who shows some symptoms can immediately request a swab for free.

Ah, but ignorance is not limited to the poor because I know of a few who actually went through all the symptoms yet refused to take a swab test for fear that they will be dragged out of their homes and placed in a quarantine facility.

Instead, they opted to go on self-isolation until it’s all over. Good thing they survived it on their own as many did. But I must admit that I had the same trepidation then about voluntary testing after seeing the conditions and posts of those who were quarantined. But we have to think of the bigger picture to ensure that we do not infect others who can also infect more. Besides, if government-run facilities are not to your taste, you can pay for better service in hotels that have been approved as isolation centers.

In fairness to the local government, now that monitoring and operations are under El Cid and City Administrator Em Ang who do not have the penchant of making excuses for lapses, the system has improved much.

Government can only do so much. If people refuse to cooperate with the simplest of health protocols, then it won’t be long till we see a rise in the number of cases again – and consequently, another round of lockdown. God forbid that!

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