Extraordinary measures during extraordinary times

The world has turned upside down with the COVID-19 pandemic. It has significantly disrupted global economic activities, forced societies to change its methods of interaction, and prompted a reconfiguration of our everyday living as individuals. Increasing global deaths have compelled people to adapt and find ways to function, thrive and live under these abnormal and difficult conditions.

International organizations, governments and communities have been forced to implement harsh lockdowns to stymie the transmission of the virus. Families are left with no choice but to spend milestone events such as birthdays, anniversaries, and occasions physically away from each other for everyone's protection. For survival, businesses either had to downsize or close altogether to save what is left from their depleted capital.

Wearing of masks in public spaces have become mandatory and a norm in many societies, unlike before when it was only worn when one has respiratory issues or when one is inside the hospital. Physical distancing has prompted a change in the public transportation model, whereas various modes are only allowed to operate at limited capacity unlike before when the congestion of people in PUVs was acceptable and permissible.

Mental health issues have escalated due to the prolonged lockdowns. Worse, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported that the number of suicide incidents in the country significantly increased by 25.7% in 2020 from the previous year and deaths rose to about 3,529 from the previous 5-year average of 2,630. Many people are silently suffering from severe anxiety due to the rampant spread of the virus, as well as depression due to isolation and social segregation.

Deaths due to COVID-19 are sharply increasing in the thousands to tens of thousands daily and the cases are getting closer to our homes and workplaces. Stories of friends, relatives or loved ones being intubated or hospitalized have sadly become normal in our social media spaces rather than mere infrequent occasions. Seeing friends change profile pictures to black gives many a sense of fear, anxiety, and trauma that the virus is just right around the corner.

Amid these struggles, the world needs a participatory approach for us to get over this pandemic. While vaccination is an individual choice, the safety and welfare of our families and loved ones should take precedence over our fears and skepticism.  While physical distancing and health protocols may be harsh, these are implemented to curb the spread of the virus. Observance of these protocols should not be merely for compliance but a way of expressing our love to others.

Times are indeed extraordinary, and so are the measures we must take to ensure that the world successfully recovers economically, mentally, spiritually, and socially from the effects of the virus. Following health protocols and being vaccinated sounds so simple and elementary but these demand commitment and consistency.

Let us be extra cautious and sensitive to the difficulties and sufferings of people during this pandemic.

About the Author
Mr. Aaron Benedict De Leon is currently a Business Development Practitioner in a private consulting firm. He has more than six years of professional experience in leading and managing political and non-government organizations, specializing in organizational management, policy development and program management. He has had stints with notable political/socio-civic organizations, serving in various capacities as: Secretary-General of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) [2013-2015], Founding Chairperson of the Centrist Democratic Youth Association of the Philippines (CDYAP) [2012-2014], Philippine Representative to the International Young Democrat Union (IYDU) [2011-2012], Chairperson of the Christian Democratic Youth [2011-2012], Secretary-General of YOUTH Philippines [2010-2011], and Spokesperson/Communications Director of the GT2010 Gilbert Teodoro Presidential Campaign [2009-2010].
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