The COVID pandemic has become a class struggle and you don’t have to look farther than our streets where private vehicles are free to roam around while public transport are at a standstill.
I went on an errand yesterday, passing through major roads and I can count on my fingers the tricycles I saw, some of them bearing “for barangay use” and a couple with “Frontliner” signs on them.
It was a short errand and I was back home in less than an hour. But unlike Sundays when it’s a total lockdown, there were many vehicles that it seemed the “slow-down” which the city government likes to call it, can’t even be felt except when you pass by establishments, especially restaurants that are closed.
Even in checkpoints, like the one near Homesite-Circumferential roads, private vehicles are not flagged down to check whether occupants fall under the odd-even quarantine pass scheme. The scene looks different though at the checkpoint along Burgos St. near Robinson’s East. Vehicles are checked one at a time and I saw several motorcyles and a vehicle turning to a nearby street, clearly to avoid the checkpoint. Perhaps the law enforcement team that man these two controls do not come from the same group.
And it’s not only in the streets that you see the stark difference between classes but in the conduct of quarantine. The MECQ stopped the practice of home quarantine for all positives. Before this, for as long as the patient can show it is possible to be on strict isolation in their home, which means a room and a bathroom for yourself, home quarantine was allowed.
However, there have been reports that this measure is not being strictly followed at home and since government does not have the manpower to monitor movements of patients, the new protocol dictates that all positives must now be brought to quarantine facilities.
Unfortunately, our facilities are less to be desired, to say the least. Much as you would want to cooperate with the policies government dictates, even if some of them are bordering on idiotic, sometimes it is hard to accept these policies when it is clear that you have a better alternative to ensure your loved one’s safety and well-being in your own homes.
A post on social media from a mother whose son was picked up by the quarantine team has been going viral. The mom could not understand why her son had to be placed among strangers, four of them sharing a room and all of them in the facility floor sharing the same bathroom, when they clearly can offer a better alternative at home.
Unfortunately, we should adhere to the new protocol. In fact, a source said that some quarantine rooms have six persons sharing the space. Good if it’s just COVID-19 that they encounter in those facilities because they are all positives anyway. But what if there are other illnesses there that are as contagious like tuberculosis or facility acquired pneumonia?
What is more disconcerting is what one official revealed that among the reasons why our hospitals are filled to capacity were that there are positives who have more in life and have taken refuge in hospitals to avoid quarantine facilities.
City Administrator EmAng in an interview said that their data shows that our hospitals are 97-98 percent filled up already. The regional hospital also issued an advisory that their COVID beds, including the recently opened COVID intensive care unit is also full. So what happens between now and next week when we will have severe cases that need to be hospitalized? Where else will they go?
A source told me that Go Hotel has reportedly agreed to become a quarantine facility for paying patients. This source said they have been looking for private establishments that can be converted into a quarantine facility when they conduct their own mass testing.
The rates will be P1,700 per day excluding food and for the 14-day mandatory quarantine period, that will cost P23,800 for the room alone. For those who can clearly afford, they should explore this option if they are asymptomatic and leave our hospitals free for the more severe cases.
This crisis will stay for several more months and I hope the city government will find ways to talk to more establishments, including retreat homes and dormitories that can serve as quarantine facilities. This option will also save the city’s resources as they do not need to feed the patients. The only cost they will incur will be for the personnel assigned to monitor the state of the patients.
If that ain’t class war, what is? But can we begrudge the affluent ones if they seek for a better alternative than what government is offering? If I have the resources, I would also want to be quarantined in comfort and there’s nothing wrong with that.
But the point here is this pandemic just drove a deeper divide among classes and will continue to do so especially when a vaccine is found. Guess who will be first in line? It is sad but that’s the harsh reality.*