Pandemic journals, Week 2

Note: These are my Covid-19 Pandemic Journals, started on 1 March 2020 (offline) and my daily entries summarized every Sunday. They contain my personal observations, opinions and musings, which would otherwise remain buried in the sheer avalanche of news and analysis in these past three months of 2020. These have been trimmed down in some places and expounded in other places so I can post them here for public consumption. This are my entries for 8-14 March, Week 2.

Worried for Lombardia friends

People in Italy’s Lombardia region, especially elderly ones, are dying like flies if we are to believe the news. The entire region is now on lockdown. I’m worried in a very personal way, for friends and compatriots that I met and worked with when I visited Como and Milan in July-August last year. Filipino overseas workers are particularly at risk, since a big number are domestic helpers who work in other people’s homes, or service workers who deal with many people every day, and are thus more vulnerable. Como and Milan being major tourist destinations, with hordes of visitors coming in and going out every day, makes the region a super hot spot for the epidemic.

Thankfully, it seems most Filipinos in the Como-Milan area are still safe thus far. Their lockdown does not absolutely prevent them from going out of their houses, but they do feel the pinch of the restrictions. But they are coping. (9 March)

Why Panelo and Andanar remain Covid-free

Hindi siguro dadapuan ng Covid-19 sina Sal Panelo, Martin Andanar et al. Istrikto talaga ang pagsunod nila sa mga bilin ng DOH. Oras-oras nga, panay hugas-kamay nila. (9 March)

Homeless people welcome ‘Work from Home’

Narinig nila, uso na daw ngayon ang Work from Home. Tanong ko, “Ano sa tingin nyo?” Sagot ni Ate: “Ay gusto namin yan Ser. Magkaka-work na kami, may home pa. Sa wakas.”

A Wuhan-type lockdown for Metro Manila?

A Wuhan-type lockdown relies on high levels of technological capacity and strictly instilled service discipline. A Xinhua News video feature, for example, shows how a rider delivers food supplies to households in China’s Covid-19 epicenter. This is possible only in a country where such services have the full support of the state and are in fact required for its so-called command economy. Under socialism, this would have been a given. Or, as in capitalist-friendly China, there still remains the vestiges of high value given to social services. If the Duterte government tried to implement such a Wuhan-style lockdown in Metro Manila, it would be an absolutely merciless strangehold for many poor people. (10 March)

Metro Manila wide lockdown as signal

On Fri 13 March, the Duterte government announced a Metro Manila-wide lockdown starting midnight of Sat 14 March going into Sun 15 March. It was a sudden bolt that created more problems than it solved, although the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) tasked to oversee the lockdown defended it as an absolute and urgent necessity. I’m seeing this clearly as a prelude to something bigger, perhaps as a first step towards a wider (perhaps eventually a nationwide) lockdown. I’ve posted an FB note in January about the dangers of an ill-defined and ill-prepared lockdown for the Taal volcano eruption. At the very least, a typology of various lockdown modes appropriate to specific situations should have been laid down. This is not a good way to govern in normal times, and certainly a dangerous way to govern and manage crises in times of a disaster–certainly not during a pandemic.

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