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Manila Bulletin - 2021-05-05

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The significance of 10 seconds

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Just a few weeks ago, the number of people in the Philippines infected daily with COVID-19 was above 10,000. In recent days, the daily number of people infected hovered around 8,000 people. Earlier this week, Ryan Caybayab tweeted his experience talking with a colleague in Taiwan, and his friend expressed how worrisome it was in Taiwan because there was a surge. Mr. Cayabyab later that day checked the number of infections in Taiwan and found out that there were four new cases. Not 4,000 people, not 400, not even 40. But four people. Yet, the government and people in Taiwan considered that a surge. Putting things in perspective. In the Philippines, with an average of 9,000 Filipinos infected daily, that means every minute, at least six people test positive for the virus. Six people, every minute. That means there are more people who test positive in the Philippines in a minute, as compared to four people in a day in Taiwan. If there are six people who test positive for the virus, that means, every 10 seconds, someone tests positive for COVID-19. Putting things in perspective, by the time you send out a tweet, or reply to a tweet, a Filipino would have already gotten the virus. If you drink coffee, within the time you to take a sip of your coffee (not the whole cup, but just a sip), someone will have already contracted the virus. Just reading this paragraph alone, takes a longer time than for someone to test positive for COVID-19 in the Philippines. If you have to go to the office or a meeting, or even the grocery, and have to tie your shoelaces, from the time you start, till the time you end, it takes about 40 seconds to a minute. On August 7, 2020, a Guinness World Record for the fastest time to lace a shoe was set. This was achieved by Álvaro Martín Mendieta (Spain), in Rivas-Vaciamadrid, Spain who took 15.51 seconds to lace a shoe. It takes a shorter time for someone in the Philippines to get the virus, than the fastest person in the world to tie his shoe. For the ordinary folks, it takes you a minute to tie your shoe, from the time you start, till you’re done, six people would have already tested positive for the virus. Six individuals who, as of late, are more of people we know. Family, relatives, friends, colleagues, etc. These are not only numbers and statistics, but people. Yet, we’re still testing lower than capacity. The number of tests supposedly conducted every day, are still lower than the numbers touted by the government. The tests reflected also only include RT-PCR tests and does not include Antigen tests. Despite this, there seems to be no sense of urgency. No rush to make things better. Many are left with the feeling that it’s something we have to live with, and we just have to adapt. Make no mistake about it, the virus is still here. Many hope the national government significantly improves its efforts to keep Filipinos safe. I also hope people follow more diligently health protocols, to keep themselves safe and healthy. Many health experts do not see the pandemic ending anytime soon. With the current rate people are vaccinated, it will take years before we even think about reaching herd immunity. So, we have to be careful. Not just for ourselves, but more importantly, for our loved ones. Stay safe. Stay healthy. Do better, and demand better. #change4Dbetter.

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