Let Us Take Care of Each Other

Let us admit it. We are all glued to any COVID19-related updates in our TV and social media accounts. Everyday we spend hours scouting for news or any kind of information that can help us combat the virus or give us details about how neighbouring cities or countries are faring. The same virus that is causing paranoia and anxiety as we worry about our health and of those of our loved ones (especially our elders) because many of us are residing far away from our families. 

We are constantly on the edge as we know about the aggressive growth of infected cases versus the crawling speed of patients recovering from the ordeal. In fact, as of March 21 (Ajazeera News), at least 11,000 people have died of COVID19 worldwide (surpassing the SARS outbreak in  2002-2003 and the Ebola outbreak in 2014-2016) with more than 275,000 tested positive for COVID19 (Aljazeera citing John Hopkins University). Yes, that is how deadly it is. It is not just some mere flu.

Every single day we hear of countries reporting their growing number of infected cases and the struggles in confining the virus due to a number of variables – logistical issues, shortage of medical equipment and facilities, and healthworkers (affected by the first two variables mentioned) being put at greater risk as the surge in infection continues. 

It is a tough situation but it is even tougher for our leaders who are tasked to handle the crisis and are doing everything they could to “flatten the curve” as how it is termed. Governments all over the world are stepping up in addressing this pandemic, balancing the use of all available resources to fight this pandemic without crippling the economy of the country, ensuring that there is fair and continuous access to basic social services, learning from each other’s practices (what worked and what did not), and implementing mandates that can reduce the spread of the virus (conducting more tests and contact tracing initiatives, reinforcing border control and monitoring, mobilizing the police and military for community quarantines as well as in providing logistical assistance and civilian control so healthworkers can actually do their job, etc).   

I say it again – IT IS TOUGH and now is not the time to be bickering amongst each other and attacking every preventive measure being implemented. We are all accounted for each other. We have an obligation to protect one another. Many private companies and enterprises have partnered with government units and are lending their services, offering their resources, and making adjustments to lessen the economical burden that this pandemic has inflicted on ordinary citizens. For example, kudos to the Jollibee Foods, San Miguel Corporation, SM Supermalls, MVP Group of Comapanies, Ayala Group of Companies, Metrobank and GT, Gokongwei group, Coca-Cola, amongst others for being one with the Philippine government in coping with the COVID19 crisis. On top of this, private individuals are donating money and food packs, as well as sharing basic goods with those who are not able to secure for themselves. Just to name a few.

For those of us who are not in the front lines, what we can do is do small gestures that can help those who are battling this virus head on. Let us help one another by taking care of each other. Here are some of the things that we can do.

Stay at home.

Do not venture outside unless it is extremely necessary like to buy food or go to the hospital. Please stay at home!  Follow the directive if you are adviced to remain in the safety of your own homes or told to work from home. The chances of getting infected or spreading the infection (as the infected and as carriers) are lower if we are confined within our homes and minimize interaction within an environment where there are other people nearby. I cannot emphasize enough how irresponsible behaviour has contributed to the chain of transmission of COVID19. Not everyone has the choice to stay at home (example: our healthworkers are still on duty) so let us all cooperate for the sake of those who are on the frontlines. 

Observe social distancing.

Social distancing is not just literally increasing the gap between you and the person near you (For COVID19, it was adviced to set a 2-meter distance.) Social distancing is also working from home (my husband’s company is already implementing this in order to protect their workers), closing schools and temporarily switching to online classes, closing shops, restaurants, and cafes, postponing big events like concerts and shows (I have already postponed some projects until all this calms down), finding other online alternatives for meetings and conferences, not travelling, and keeping intouch with loved ones and friends electronically. Everyone is affected. However, I was horrified to have read in the news about springbreakers still partying amidst the COVID19 warnings. This is just appalling behaviour of young people who are obviously only thinking of themselves and their temporary fun.  

If you need to be outside out of necessity then at least observe social distancing by keeping your distance from other people (2 meters) and replacing usual greetings with the ones that keep the physical gap but retains the sincerity. It is important that we still acknowledge each other. Check out some examples below:

Communicate with your loved ones.

As you may already know, social isolation can get lonely for those who are not used to this kind of arrangement. This is an advantage that many anti-socials such as myself have. Technology is at its best these days. We have other means of checking in on our loved ones and speaking with them directly – text, call, send an e-mail. This can also help us share and exchange information with one another.

I have been communicating with my family everyday. Other than it provides me relief to know they are well, there are also some information that they know that I do not know and vice versa. It is important for our own sanity to continue interacting with people. For those who live alone, for our elders who wonder why we cannot visit them as often, a simple ‘how are you?’ can go a long way.  

Photo credit: hursvillemg.blogspot.com

Counter racism.

I have said this many times, diseases do not choose races to spread infection. Because COVID19 came from China, many people are discriminating Chinese people (even calling it the Chinese virus) or individuals who share similar features (Asians). I have read so many horror stories of xenophobia happening everywhere and I myself had to endure some minor ones (When people see me approaching, they run the opposite direction which makes me wonder if COVID19 gave me a superpower?) Kidding aside, the wave of racism happening all over the globe is ridiculous and disgusting. Shame, shame, shame.

What can you do? Do not play dumb or deaf to these atrocities. They are happening everywhere around us – public transportations, schools, shops, and social media platforms. If you see, hear, and ‘made to feel’ these racist behaviours – speak up. Point it out, correct, and educate. Report to authorities if need be. Most importantly, do not negate what victims have experienced just because it did not happen to you or your borders for discrimination is unlike theirs due to the privilege you have been enjoying. Like what the MTA Pride Train notes: COVID19 IS NOT AN EXCUSE TO BE RACIST.

Fight misinformation.

A tiny-weeny fake or distorted information is dangerous. It can lead to gullible people believing fake news that are not factual. Check this Newsweek article about some viral information about COVID19 that should be looked into.  Not everything in the said article is applicable in every country but there are some mentioned there that are also circulating in Asia and Europe. Fake news travel fast and we need to learn how to combat this dangerous culture on misinfortmation and transform it by reflecting on what is being communicated and by critically deliberating on what messages to accept or resist. 

Reflect. Validate. Educate and Correct (if necessary). Get your updates from trusted references (WHO, government ministries of health or other noted agency referred by authorized representatives of COVID19 Response) and learn to critically sift through the information you are encountering. Do not just read and then pass on. Think also about the consequences of passing the information on. Is it helpful? Will it cause harm or panic? Should I verify the information through another source? Where can I verify this kind of information? Where did this person get the information? Is this person a reliable source of information (because there are people who actually thrive on drama and will deliberately cause it)?

And for information which you have already passed  on but discovered that it was incorrect or a change has happened, immediately correct it through the medium that you used in sharing it. Issue an erratum or an updated note. This is the responsibility of every person who passes on information. 

Photo credit: watchity.com

Spread positive vibes.

I do not know about you but I am fed up with all the whining and the negativities circulating online. There is always an issue about something – no matter how big or small. It is toxic culture. For instance, I have been seeing a lot of complaints about running out of things to do while on community quarantine. Seriously? The government has to worry about this too? Think of things that can keep you preoccupied. Read a book, clean the house, do and fold the laundry, sweep/mop the floor, have an actual conversation with your family, play with your children, pull out white hair from your parents’ head, dance, exercise, do yoga, learn a new language, play cards or board games, sketch, paint, write a poem or a novel (if you are feeling ambitious), tiktok, do indoor gardening, bake, play an instrument (or learn to play an instrument), sing, play mobile legends, watch movies, teach your pets new tricks, etc. There are plenty of things to do. You might even rediscover yourselves in the process. 

On the other hand, I am happy to see good news shared by some individuals in social media platforms. I see posts about what governments are doing, how big industries are helping out and just generally featuring random acts of kindness and generosity. Salute to all of you! Your posts make me smile every time. 

Practice proper hygiene and sanitation.

By now, you already know the drill.

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use sanitizer or alcohol. If those too are not available, at least keep your hands away from your face. 
  2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  3. Cover with tissue (or inner elbow) when you cough or sneeze.
  4. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  5. Self-monitor

Stop hoarding.

This has got to stop. You are only feeding the panic by doing this. Buy only what is necessary. And for those A-holes who are taking advantage of this crisis to profit, we have our eyes on you! Be informed that there are now government agencies and task forces that are regulating prices of basic goods and any business or individual caught abusing can be reported. They will be fined or will need to serve jail time. (These hoarders are in the same league as the racists.) Curb the panic-greed reflex, people! There are other consumers who are also in need of these items, or might have greater need for them. I would hate reading another narrative of a senior not being able to buy their basic needs because hoarders have bought them all. And I would hate it even more if we will all go down in history belonging to a self-serving generation that survived COVID19. 

Photo credit: canadianinquirer.net

If you have more to share and would like to add, please do not hesitate to comment below. Stay safe. Drink vitamins. Wash your hands. Wash your hands. Wash your hands. 

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