Categories
Daily dose

Myth: Filipinos lack discipline

Three data sets utterly destroy the government’s mantra that Filipinos lack discipline and that this is the reason why COVID-19 cases – despite having the longest lock down in the world, continue to increase by the thousands each day.

A survey by the Institute of Global Health Innovation of the Imperial College London in partnership with YouGov came up with the following figures:

  • 91% wore masks when they were outside
  • 83% washed hands w/ soap & water
  • 77% avoided crowded areas
  • 61% avoided going out in general
  • 70% avoided touching objects in public

Google’s COVID-19 Community Mobility Report (pdf) based on “aggregated, anonymized sets of data from users who have turned on the location history setting” for their Google Account paints a similar picture covering the period of June 2 to July 14:

  • 46% decline in retail & recreation areas, including restaurants, cafes, shopping centers, theme parks, museums, libraries and movie theaters
  • 20% decline in places like grocery markets, food warehouses, farmers markets, specialty food shops, drug stores and pharmacies
  • 25% decline in places like national parks, public beaches, marinas, dog parks, plazas, and public gardens.
  • 56% decline in places like public transport hubs such as subways, bus, and train stations.
  • 44% decline for places of work
  • 23% increase for places of residence. In other words, Filipinos stayed at home.

Marlen V. Ronquillo in his The Manila Times column talks about how a recent survey by the Asian Development Bank ‘shatter the myth that Filipinos are pasaway‘:

63.2% decrease in mobility – Filipinos stayed at home even in the congested areas where at least 10 people are crammed inside a small shanty.

A couple of days ago, Vince Dizon, the so-called ‘testing czar’ regurgitated the myth that ‘discipline’ is the key to beating COVID-19. He casually dismissed testing, contact tracing, strengthening the health care system and using available technology as essential tools against the coronavirus. It is bad enough that up until now, public health experts have taken a back seat in the government’s response against COVID-19, it’s infuriating to hear such ridiculous notions from those who are put in such a position.

I have said it before and will say it again, from the experience of other countries, COVID-19 can be beaten. The struggle only becomes more difficult – at the expense of human lives, when the government itself becomes another enemy in this pandemic.

Categories
Science

Novel coronavirus 2019 disease & virus gets official names

Two official names have been made public today in relation to the on-going pandemic, yes I said it, of novel coronavirus: the disease and the virus that causes it.

As per the World Health Organization:

For the virus:

Similar to how one should distinguish the AIDS (disease) from HIV (virus). With the official names now available, research and news reporting would be much clearer.

So let’s recap: the disease is called Coronavirus Disease-19 or COVID-19 and the virus is called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

Categories
Daily dose

How the novel coronavirus outbreak gave birth to #OustDuterte

A lot has happened in the past month since the world learned of the 2019 novel coronavirus that started an outbreak in the city of Wuhan in China’s Hubei province. As of this writing, figures from the WHO are as follows:

Globally
11953 confirmed (2128 new)
China
11821 confirmed (2102 new)
1795 severe (268 new)
259 deaths (46 new)
Outside of China
132 confirmed (26 new)
23 countries (4 new)

Novel Coronavirus(2019-nCoV) Situation Report – 12 as of Feb 1, 2020

In the Philippines, the numbers from the Department of Health as summarized below:

DOH tracker of novel coronavirus cases in the Philippines

The first fatality in the Philippines also earned the distinction as the first one outside of China: 44-year old male who was the companion of the first patient, 38-year old female to have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Both were tourists from Wuhan arriving at Cebu via Cebu Pacific flight 5J 241 (Hong Kong-Cebu) and DG 6519 (Cebu-Dumaguete) last Jan. 21, 2020. From Cebu, they then took a flight to Manila on January 25, 2020 via Philippine Airlines. Both airlines have pulled out the actual planes boarded by the tourists for disinfection and have had their cabin crews and pilots screened for the the coronavirus. They are also working with health authorities in tracking down and contacting the other passengers who sat nearby the two tourists.

For some measure of relief, 24 persons under investigation have tested negative for the novel coronavirus.

On January 31, the WHO declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. In response, neighboring countries like Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Mongolia and Russia have declared travel restrictions on passengers from China. Meanwhile, here in the Philippines, all the government did was declare a travel restriction only to passengers coming form Hubei province where the epicenter of the of outbreak is. This slow response and deference to ‘avoiding the ire of Beijing‘ sparked public outrage that made #OustDuterte a top trending topic on Twitter.

Which was no surprise considering that on that same day, still active Presidential-aide turned Senator Christopher Go stated that President Duterte would meet have a meeting with heath experts and government officials to deal with the outbreak NEXT WEEK! Adding insult to injury, Presidential Spokesperson followed up with a statement that for Duterte, “weekends are sacred” and that he “likes to sleep long.

The response of the administration’s supporters was not totally unexpected: the deployment of online trolls and bot farms with a different, albeit hypocritical narrative: an appeal for sympathy for our Chinese brethren and that a travel ban smacks of racism:

Be careful with sharing the sob stories you read surrounding current events. Some of them are fake/propaganda…

Posted by Martin Luke Lastrilla Patiño on Friday, January 31, 2020

This quickly backfired as netizens used the troll’s message as a template to further mock and throw shade against the administration:

I'm sad. We have Chinese neighbors sa condo, and just now may nakasabay kaming babae (Chinese) with 2 kids. Ang sabi nya…

Posted by Rafael Antonio Anton Dulce on Saturday, February 1, 2020

There are a lot more of these and quite sure you’ve seen either type or both on your newsfeed. The key takeaway is this, at the very least the Duterte administration is sensitive to public opinion.