Health and Wellness


The Department of Health (DOH) has detected the first positive case of the new Coronavirus strain in the Philippines on January 13, which is said to be more communicable than the first one. Judging from our "almost normal" 2021 world, this is not looking to be that much different than our last outbreak.

/ 18 January 2021

Let’s face it—we’re not getting out of this mess before March. This means that we’re meeting the anniversary of our isolation (March 16) in pretty much the same spot we did the year before. Around this time last year, the first COVID case in the Philippines was also confirmed, and with the rate things are going with the arrival of the new strain into our borders, and community quarantines all but completely lifted, it feels as if we’re being hit with a classic case of déjà vu.

Health experts believe that the new virus mutation, which was originally discovered in the UK, is more highly infectious than the one we’ve been fearing for a year now. This is understandably concerning news, especially given the fact that we’ve hardly contained the first wave of cases in the country, yet Filipinos are feeling more and more confident to go outside and travel for leisure purposes.

With a virus that’s expected to infect more people, a country that’s gotten too restless from waiting around inside, and a body of government officials that are still making quite questionable decisions, our current situation is looking to be a recipe for disaster. Not much different from where we were a year prior.

Following the news of the latest COVID strain infecting the Philippines, and various parts of the world, the government has issued a travel ban to several countries in order to curb its further spread. Travelers from UK, Denmark, Ireland, Japan, Australia, Israel, the Netherlands, China, Hong Kong, Switzerland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Lebanon, Singapore, Sweden, South Korea, South Africa, Canada, Spain, the United States, Portugal, India, Finland, Norway, Jordan, Brazil, Austria, Pakistan, Jamaica, Luxembourg, and Oman are all prohibited from going to the Philippines until January 31, 2021.

Aside from these measures, no additional protocols have been issued. And a casual scroll on social media would tell us that many of us remain unfazed by the recent news, or at least, not enough to scare everyone to go back indoors and avoid crowds. In fact, the Department of Tourism has also launched several campaigns to promote domestic travel, with added stringent precautions to ensure everybody’s health and wellness.

Understandably, Filipinos are feeling restless and anxious in all fronts, with not many options to relieve the tension. Stay indoors to avoid contact with someone infected with the virus, but be suffocated by cabin fever in the process? Or go outside to seek comfort from friends and normalcy, but exhaust ourselves with paranoia from the virus lurking in crowded places?

With almost a year of confinement and involuntary solitude, the most important thing we could do now is be mindful of our actions, and be careful whenever we have physical contact with the outside world.

Perhaps the best course of action for us all would be to stay in community quarantine until the vaccines get here. But clearly, there are other things to prioritize such as our national economy, and our mental wellbeing as a society—and it’s up to us to identify which ones are worth sacrificing to ensure that.

All we can say is, the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, despite what we hoped to see in the New Year. So we leave you with these very important reminders: Sanitize everything, minimize touching items in public spaces, maintain social distancing, and wear face masks and face shields at all times.