Embracing the new normal
By Penelope A. Domogo, MD
More than a year has passed since the first lockdown in March 2020. And it seems we are back to square one. Back to GCQ for crowded cities. There are more covid cases detected. What does this mean? It means that we don’t have herd immunity yet. This is understandable. For the past year, we have quarantined people and thus effectively limited their exposure to covid. So the cases were controlled. This was important as this gave our health facilities and health workers time to be familiar with handling symptomatic cases and be better at it and time to mobilize resources for hospitalized cases.
However, a year of a very restricted social life could be too stressful for people like us, Filipinos, who love family, company and talking. We have close family and community ties and it’s abnormal not to be talking to them. One year of social distancing has taken its toll. So we grab every opportunity to be with family and mingle with people. And with our small communities, we can easily reach each other. Further, with a lot of families having their own vehicles, it’s easy to travel long distances. The result? More covid cases. Our local hospitals are full, our temporary treatment facilities are full.
In some villages, I was informed that even people who tested positive for covid don’t wear facemasks so they had to be rounded up and quarantined. And I notice that some people don’t follow physical distancing at all. There’s something missing somewhere.
Perhaps we need to open up more avenues for people to be informed that there is really a need for a change in our mindset. We need to be conscious that the virus could be anywhere around us or in the person next to you. We need to embrace the new normal.
And what is this new normal? You have heard it countless times but what else?
1. Eat as natural as possible- meaning, eat naturally-grown foods as much as possible. What was missed during the past year is the advise on healthy diet. We have been bombarded with messages to wear facemask, etc. but not to eat well. We know that those who had severe covid or who died had co-morbidities like high blood pressure and diabetes. Eating well will make our immune system strong- our best defense.
2. Exercise. One side-effect of lockdown is laziness. Because government told people to stay home, some took this literally. Remember that enough physical activity will strengthen our immune system so get out and garden and walk.
3. Wear facemask when you are near people.
4. Practice physical distancing at least one meter. This is a challenge, though, because our public buildings are relatively small and some have poor ventilation. When you see crowding in a building, don’t insert yourself in. Wait for others to come out before going in.
5. Opt for outdoor rather than indoor. Have enough sunshine and fresh air. Rather than going to the mall, do your marketing in the open fresh market.
6. Patronize local. A lot of households, especially farmers, have lost income because of lockdown and the best we can do to help them is buy their produce and products. Instead of buying cookies from Manila, why don’t we buy the patupat of our neighbor? This seemingly small gesture will go a long way in promoting overall health of the community.
7. Avoid mass gatherings. If you have to attend any gathering, still practice social distancing and wear facemask. Gone are those days of all-night partying and all-night stands.
8. Practice zero waste. Lockdown gives us more time to manage our wastes properly. Reduce, reuse, recycle. We need to think long-term health and survival.
9. Practice good hygiene. Let us maximize the use of our water.
10. Have a positive disposition and trust in the Divine- that he is in control.
11. Even if you got the covid vaccine, you are not 100% protected so you have to still practice the 10 steps mentioned above.
I would like to share my experience with a forest fire many years back. It was summer and we were tending our camote patch which was located in the middle of a pine forest. I saw this forest fire, about 300 meters away, coming towards our direction. I immediately tried to do what I knew – make a fire breaker. It was my first experience with this and I panicked when I saw the fire advancing faster that I could clear an area. So no choice but to retreat to safe ground and let the fire consume itself out. It got our fence but we were safe. It finally died out by itself when there was no more combustible material in its path. Perhaps that is how we will live with covid. As long as the community does not have herd immunity and there are people who are vulnerable to covid, then cases will continue to appear. Let us keep ourselves on safe ground by embracing the new normal while waiting for covid to consume itself out.***
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5