Life Under COVID-19-induced Isolation

COVID-19 is a preventable disease that can be defeated by us being responsible for ourselves, our loved ones and other people, and having a sense of regard for the well-being of the community and our country.

To be clear, I am writing the article not because I have been diagnosed with COVID-19. I am still lucky enough not to be COVID-19 positive because of my strict adherence to basic health and safety protocols, perhaps a result of me having a pre-existing health condition that makes my immune system compromised. I am writing this to discuss how life was like in isolation due to a case of COVID-19 in the locality where I reside.

A lot of Filipinos complain about the strict implementation of basic health protocols, namely washing of hands with soap and water or, if not available, alcohol or alcohol-based sanitizer, wearing of face masks and face shields, and physical distancing of at least one meter, saying that those are violating their civil liberties. Some are even openly irresponsible by not following them at all, going out in publlic without properly wearing face masks or not wearing face masks at all, and not practicing physical distancing by engaging neighbors in a huddle to get the latest gossip or have a drinking and gambling session.

When the number of COVID-19 positive cases start piling up in the neighborhood, the same individuals who blatantly violated basic health protocols put the blame solely on the government. Frankly speaking, they blame everyone else but themselves. Their situation could have been prevented if only they were responsible enough to take care of themselves and the people around them, and have a sense of regard for the well-being of their community.

Frankly speaking, the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) is still more relaxed compared to the current localized lockdowns being implemented by the local government units. During ECQ, an assigned member of the household, bearing a quarantine pass issued by the barangay or the local government unit, can go out to buy food and medicine, withdraw money from the bank, and perform other essential tasks. In the case of a localized lockdown, no one, including those who are permitted to work in essential industries or those assigned to perform essential tasks by carrying quarantine passes, is allowed to leave the households within the locale for the period of 14 days when a single resident tests positive for COVID-19, enabling authorities to contain the spread of COVID-19, do contact tracing, and isolate and treat those who are suspected of having the disease.

The area of Metro Manila where I reside was subjected to a 14-day localized lockdown last July after one of my neighbors, a medical front-liner, tested positive for COVID-19. During the said period, the asymptomatic patient had to stay isolated at home completely while the patient's co-occupants had to be monitored. For the rest of us, we were told not to go out of our residences for 14 days to facilitate contact tracing and other necessary courses of action being taken by local health and law enforcement authorities.

For 14 days, I was a virtual prisoner inside my own home, a result of the community being subjected to COVID-19 induced isolation. I could not go out to buy essential items and perform other tasks because of concerns related to COVID-19 and as ordered by local authorities. Good thing I was able to stock up on food and other items while I still had three weeks' worth of maintenance medication left inside the medicine cabinet. I could not even dispose of the garbage because we were not allowed to go out of our homes.

My medical front-liner neighbor recovered and tested negative for COVID-19 after 11 days while the co-occupants at their residence all tested negative from the disease. The localized lockdown was lifted by authorities the next day, 12 days after it was imposed. All affected residents, especially those who were not able to report for work, were issued certification by the local government that our community was subjected to a localized lockdown that prevented us from going out of our homes.

I do not blame my medical front-liner neighbor for what happened. In fact, I want to thank her for her service, for risking her life to protect others from the disease, causing her to eventually get sick from COVID-19. I am glad that she recovered and can report again for work, although she was asked by her superiors to rest for a while after recovering.

Just imagine the hassle that a localized lockdown would cause on a large number of people due to a single person who got sick of COVID-19 out of sheer recklessness or by not following basic health protocols. This is the reason why I am urging everyone to follow basic health protocols, and instructions being issued by national and local authorities. COVID-19 is a preventable disease that can be defeated by us being responsible for ourselves, our loved ones and other people, and having a sense of regard for the well-being of the community and our country.

About the Author
Benedict is an agricultural economist, academician and writer. He has gained experience and expertise in various fields of economics, business, political science and public relations after through professional ventures in the academe, and in the public and private sectors. He has authored or co-authored key publications on topics ranging from agriculture and food security to global affairs and politics.
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