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And now, plastic shields for public transportation


edt editorial

STARTING August 15, passengers in public transportation, including airlines, in Metro Manila will be required to wear plastic face shields over face masks, as an additional barrier against the spread of COVID-19 virus in droplets from the breath of an infected person that may be in the surrounding air.

This additional requirement was made as cases continued to rise in the Philippines – 115,980 cases as of last Thursday, with 2,123 deaths. Metro Manila and Calabarzon have been returned to the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) with its many restrictions because the number of COVID-19 cases kept rising.

It appears that many people had continued to ignore orders to wear face masks and were gathering at street corners and other places. After the two regions had been eased Into General Community Quarantine (GCQ), many were now travelling to work in public transports like the MRT rails, buses, and jeepneys.

The government, prompted by a letter from doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel facing an increasing number of cases in hospitals, thus decided to step back and ordered a return to the MECQ level of restrictions. And it is adding a new requirement of plastic face shields for those who can find public transportation.

Face masks have long been required in Metro Manila and many other parts of the country, but it is only now that they are being made compulsory in other countries like France and the Netherlands. In the United States. President Donald Trump refused to wear face masks for months, until he finally agreed to say it was “patriotic” to wear one. But he himself continues to appear in public without one.

Face masks became a legal issue in the US state of Georgia when the mayor of its biggest city Atlanta ordered their compulsory wearing in public. But the state governor, acting in support of businessmen and their employees, sued the mayor, saying only the state, not the city, can issue such an order.

Editorial Cartoon (August 9, 2020)

Editorial Cartoon (August 9, 2020)

The coronavirus has continued to spread around the world, particularly in the US and Brazil. For a while, there was hope that it would simply die down after a few months like some previous epidemics, but this one has not stopped. Many countries are now experiencing a second wave of infections. A great deal of hope is pinned on the discovery of a vaccine but most may be ready only in December or much later. We hope to get some of the vaccine now being developed by China.

The epidemic kept us from observing our traditions of Lent and the Holy Week, as well as many local fiestas. It has kept people from going to church for months. It may keep us from our traditional celebration of our most precious tradition – Christmas.

In just a few more days, it will be September 1 – the start of the “ber” months, when radio stations start airing traditional Christmas carols. We hope to hear them again this September, but it may be only within the confines of our homes. We will be praying for a miracle – that somehow, the pandemic will be over soon and we will have the merry and joyous Christmas we have always had.

In the meantime, we will have to carry on as best as we can. There is yet no vaccine and there is no cure. We have only face masks, social distancing, and personal hygiene to protect us. And now the government has added plastic face shields for those taking public transport.