Be thankful you live in this country

I TOLD a relative, a longtime migrant to Canada, that first chance he gets, he should move back here while the pandemic raged since it is safer here than his adopted country. He laughed; he thought I was joking and said something ridiculing my advice. Irritated, I just told him to look at the worldometers.info/coronavirus statistics.

As of this writing (December 29), the Philippines is ranked 29th in that list with the No. 1 slot occupied by the worst country hit, the United States. We’re three ranks better off than Canada with the two intervening slots occupied by Bangladesh and Pakistan. We’ve improved from rank 19 three months ago.

30 top countries hit by pandemic WORLDOMETERS.INFO/CORONAVIRUS. ACCESSED 12.29.2020

Cases here, a country of 110 million, total 470, 650 for a cases/per 1 million population ratio of 4,267. Canada, a country with just 38 million has 554,419 cases for a ratio of 14,627 cases per 1 million Canadians. We’ve had 9,124 deaths due to Covid-19; Canada has 15,009.

Can you believe this: in terms of the pandemic’s impact, we’re practically on the same level as Switzerland, which has total cases of 438,384 for a population of just 9 million.

Of course, the worst-hit country, a testament not just to the rank incompetence of its leadership and the problems of a democratic system, is the US. Despite being the government in the world with the biggest budget, despite having the most biological scientists, the most number of disease-controlling institutions, the most number of health professionals, the US has had 19.8 million cases and 342,000 deaths.

As a Miami Herald December 15 article vividly portrayed this statistic: “As of Monday, nearly 17,200 died of Covid-19 in the US over the last seven days, for an average of about 2,450 per day, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. That means every 35 seconds, someone dies from Covid-19 in the United States.” That means two Americans killed every minute.

Indeed, the worldometers.info listing shows we are much better off than more than a dozen far-richer nations with purportedly better and more advanced governments: the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium (the seat of the European Union). Communist ideologue Jose Ma. Sison, aged 82 and with underlying diseases, who’s been living in Utrecht in the Netherlands for 33 years now, would be safer in an NPA lair in Surigao.

New Covid-19 cases here DOH

Dr. Anthoni Fauci, the most respected authority on the pandemic in the US, said he sees a “surge upon surge” after the Christmas season. In a similar assessment, President-elect Joe Biden pointed out that the “darkest days of the pandemic are yet to come.”

While President Duterte and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases remain cautious, with Metro Manila and nine other areas still put under general community quarantine until January 31, the statistics at the moment show that, in sharp contrast to the US, we may be near the end of the tunnel.

After months during which new daily cases were in the 1,500 to 2,000 range (and deaths at last 100), there were only 766 cases (18 deaths) reported on December 28, and 833 cases (42 deaths) yesterday. Occupancy rates confirm the trend: Only 7,265 of residents here (out of the 22,746 active cases) are in hospitals due to Covid-19, occupying 30 percent of beds. For most of this year, occupancy has been at least 40 percent.

With this hard data, it verges on the hilarious that this yellow blockhead claims in his column that the “pandemic was mishandled, with public security prioritized over public health.” What the heck is this guy smoking? He should start looking around him: even the Yellow stalwarts and more competent columnists have shut up with regard to this administration’s handling of the pandemic.

A New Yorker article titled the “The Plague Year” went into lengthy detail in narrating what went wrong in the US. On Wednesday I will use this article’s main points to discuss why we did so well compared to the US in handling the pandemic.

One memorable phrase in that article: “A pandemic lays bare a society’s frailties.” In our case, it laid bare our people’s strengths, and that of this presidency.

Indeed, another friend from the US after getting back here was amazed seeing almost everybody — from the rich to the poorest — wearing not just masks but also face shields, which had been made mandatory in public areas which is under some form of community quarantine. In the US, he said, many are still arguing that masks don’t work, or that it’s their right to wear a mask or not. We have Filipinos trusting in science or in their government. Or following the example of their leader?

In this year of the deadliest pandemic to threaten humans in a hundred years, aren’t you thankful you live in the Philippines?

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