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The endgame

April 09, 2020 - Thursday 4:04 AM by Jimmy Laking

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President Duterte’s extension of the lockdown in the country up to April 30 is to be expected as this country’s engagement with COVID-19 reaches the endgame.

The original deadline was supposed to end on April 12 in Luzon. But the Interagency Task Force on Coronavirus was not about to give the green light.

Perhaps it checked the situation against several guidelines it came up with earlier and it was not ready for a verdict.

One of the guidelines revolved around “trends in the COVID-19 epidemiological curve that include the doubling time, acceleration, or deceleration of new cases.”

In short, while there were recoveries, indications showed no perceived flattening of the curve as yet. Hence, the decision to extend the deadline to April 30.

If it is any consolation, the number of infections nationwide stood at 3,660 coronavirus cases as of April 6, 2020, with a total 163 deaths.

This is a minuscule drop in the bucket compared to the United States where the official death toll has now surpassed 10,000 deaths, with 4,758 deaths in New York alone.

US Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams warned this will be the hardest and saddest week of most American lives.

The Washington Post reported that there is fear that the 600 deaths daily for two straight days may indicate that the pandemic curve is cresting in that part of the world.

At the same time, it added that a survey showed that hospitals in the US are facing shortages of tests, masks, face shields, ventilators, and staff. But President Trump, it added, dismissed the report as political.

In Italy, the curve appears to be showing encouraging signs with the revelation that the toll on April 5 went down to 525 fatalities, its lowest in over two weeks. The day before, it reported 681 deaths.

Italy has since tallied a total of 15,887 deaths as the virus epicenter shifted to that country after its Wuhan break-out.

Faced with the pandemic, Italy closed down all businesses and banned public gatherings for a month up to March 12. The gamble, it is reported, is paying off.

In another part of the world, Brazil is in no mood to bother with its economy, nor is it officially adopting social distancing.

Brazil has reported 12,000 coronavirus cases and suffered 550 deaths. But its President Jair Bolsonaro (described as the world’s first coronavirus refusenik) rejected a lockdown. He is also seen in public shaking hands openly with people.

In contrast, that country’s health minister, Luis Henrique Mandetta, has called on Brazilians to stay home and to practice social distancing.

Surprisingly, his call has nationwide acceptance and a jealous Bolsonaro indicated he may fire Mandetta. Now Brazilians are calling for Bolsonaro’s impeachment.

Bolsanaro insisted that the risks posed by the virus “were not worth the toll that widespread shutdowns would exact on the economy.” He called the pandemic a “fantasy” and a “little flu.” He also called for an end to social distancing.

There is no closing down of businesses in Luzon but public gatherings have since been banned and social distancing is mandatory.

Hence, the decision to extend the quarantine period can be seen as a gambit to ensure the virus has been defanged and that the curve is flattening out.

This country is not out of the woods yet but unlike Brazil, there is singularity of purpose and resolve in addressing the crisis. This country may indeed cope and heal as one.