It’s manifestly time for our government to survey the global pandemic map and reflect on where we are in the struggle to surmount the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). By the 30th of June, counting from March 16, the Philippines will have the incontestable honor of claiming the longest lockdown/ quarantine in the whole world — 106 days, The Manila Times editorial board noticed.
At the rate that the advisory Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases is hemming and hawing on the crisis, the country will probably also be the very last to surrender the lockdown as national policy.
Our thoughts turned to these questions as we digested some of the latest developments on the international front, which collectively point to a massive policy change in fighting the pandemic.
1. The United States has announced that it will no longer implement a lockdown or lockdowns in dealing with the virus.
No less than Dr. Anthony Fauci, top health expert in the White House coronavirus task force and early advocate of a lockdown, announced the new policy.
He said the US did not require more widespread lockdowns to get its Covid-19 outbreak under control, despite the fact that the national daily infection rate is not showing signs of decline.
“I don’t think we’re going to be talking about going back to lockdown,” he said when asked whether places like California and Texas that are seeing a surge in their caseload should reissue stay-at-home orders.
“I think we’re going to be talking about trying to better control those areas of the country that seem to be having a surge of cases,” he added.
The US leads the world in the number of confirmed infections and deaths, with the fatality toll approaching 120,000.
2. France, after being among the first to lift its lockdown, has announced that it would open cinemas and casinos this week in a move to ease lockdown measures further.
France was set to shake off its coronavirus blues on Sunday, with cinemas opening at the stroke of midnight and thousands of people taking to the streets for its annual Festival of Music, which usually brings millions of people out in towns and cities across the country with a mix of large-scale events and impromptu concerts in cafés and on street corners that go on long into the night.
While gatherings of more than 10 people are still banned in France, its Culture Ministry said police would be tolerant with outdoor jamming sessions on the night if people keep their distance.
French cinemas will reopen Monday.
Casinos will also welcome gamblers from Monday, while stadiums and racetracks will reopen on July 11, subject to a limit of 5,000 people, the government announced late Friday, because of the progress in the fight against Covid-19.
Significantly, the latest word is that France will now allow its actors to kiss onscreen during filming.
3. Across the entire European Union, nearly all countries have totally or partially eased their economic lockdowns, including Italy and Spain which have been the hardest hit.
4. Greece is gearing to open itself to international tourism starting this June. So will other European countries.
5. In Asia, most countries have also moved to relax their lockdowns. South Asia is still grappling with a massive spike in cases. In Southeast Asia, Indonesia and the Philippines lead the way in the number of Covid-19 cases and the duration of their lockdowns.
To find countries to imitate for continuing our economic lockdown, our government will have to survey the situation in Africa where governments were late in proclaiming a health emergency and only belatedly shut down their economies.
What will the Philippines gain from recording the longest and the ultimate lockdown in the planet? Will being a laughingstock do?