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Self-regulation will halt resurgence of COVID in ZamPen

Being vigilant and cautious at this time when we are experiencing a downtrend in COVID-19 cases in Zamboanga Peninsula may lead us, at some degree to ‘normalcy’ at the soonest possible time.

But the Department of Health warned against complacency and the over-excitement from the public and called for sobriety in allowing oneself to be exposed to more crowded areas.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire emphasized that “what would be retained would be our self-regulation. We still follow the minimum public health standard, we still do masking, we still do handwashing, avoid crowded areas, observe physical distancing, and most importantly, of course, ventilation, airflow.”

Self-regulation could be the key to stopping the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Zamboanga Peninsula. Individuals are encouraged to practice discipline and consciousness to avoid what the Department of Health (DOH) called the three C’s, namely: 1) crowded areas, 2) close-contact settings, and 3) confined and enclosed spaces.

In its advisory, the health department explained that the three C’s are usually intertwined and connected. Crowded places are usually confined and are enclosed spaces and thereby having the possibility of having close-contacts with more people. The risk is higher in places where these factors overlap. Health authorities are strongly appealing to the public that “even as restrictions are lifted, consider where you are going and #StaySafe by avoiding the three C’s.”

Here’s what everyone should do, even when at Alert Level 1 status:

Avoid crowded places and limit time in enclosed spaces. Maintain at least one meter distance from others. When possible, open windows and doors for ventilation. Keep hands clean and cover coughs and sneezes. Always wear a mask when you go outside your home. More importantly, if one is unwell, stay home unless go and seek urgent medical care.

With 100 percent full work force capacity is allowed at Level 1, returning to work will be quite intimidating for some. There is no old routine to come back to. Instead, new sets of norms will be made.

With alert level 1, well-fitted face masks should be worn properly at all times, whether outdoors or in indoor, private or public establishments, including in public transportation by land, air or sea, except of course when eating and drinking, participating in team and individual sports in venues where ventilation standards can be maintained, and practicing outdoor sports/exercise activities where physical distance can be maintained.

Health authorities further advise that all private offices and workplaces, including public and private construction sites, may operate at full 100 percent capacity, consistent with national issuances on vaccination requirements for on-site work.  However, they may continue to provide flexible and alternative work arrangements as deemed appropriate based on function or individual risk.

On contact tracing, the use of health declaration forms/paper-based contact tracing shall not be required for all the agencies and establishments under Alert Level 1. On the other hand, the use of digital contact tracing such as the StaySafe.PH application is optional for all the agencies and establishments.

Philippine Information Agency (PIA) resident physician/consultant Dr. Dean Hernando Zenarosa said that the challenge is clear and that the public, including workplaces, now has to adapt to the health protocols. 

“A workplace that responds not just to fear and anxiety, or the invisible threat of germs, but the full range of learned behaviors and attitudes that have evolved through the COVID-19 crisis,” he explained.

Doc Dean reiterated that these are but some new normal in alert level 1, but that “COVID-19 has radically redefined how we relate to space and to each other. Face masks are now an everyday accessory. We wait with 1-meter spaced queues without a second thought. And we cross the street to avoid people not as a snub, but to protect our health and others,” he said.

We pray that no COVID cases resurgence will occur soon with the very loose restrictions. The government continues to appeal to the public to get vaccinated and booster shots so that we can really go back to normalcy. Stay safe everyone! (RVC/PIA9/20220303)

About the Author

Rene Carbayas

Assistant Regional Head

Region 9

Media practitioner, a teacher by profession, an advocate for youth, peace and environment, culture and the arts, playwright and theater artist, earned his Masters Degree in Theater at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, and pursued studies in public administration at Western Mindanao State University. Some 18 years in public service and today as Assistant Regional Director of the Philippine Information Agency Region IX.

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