As of May 21, 2020, the Department of Health has said that the Philippines has reached a total of 13,221 COVID-19 cases. To flatten the curve, the government, alongside all relevant agencies, has called for the temporary closure of various businesses and implemented Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
While these measures have kept millions safe from the virus, this does not guarantee that the risk has been eliminated. Amid the global health crisis, there is no denying that COVID-19 has caused significant changes to people’s lifestyles. Once the ECQ is lifted, these significant changes—dubbed as the “new normal”—will likely continue, especially for those living in densely populated cities.
The New Normal
After experiencing the impact of the pandemic, everyone should expect that life after the ECQ would be a lot different from before. Since there is still no vaccine, government officials and health experts are concerned that returning to the way things were could pose serious risks to the general public.
With the stability of the economy and the welfare of the people in mind, concerned authorities have decided to implement General Community Quarantine (GCQ) in moderate and low-risk areas.
Here are the GCQ regulations people should take note of:
- Workers in sectors I, II, and III are allowed to go to their workplaces in phases.
- Confirmed cancellation of mass gatherings (e.g., mass, concerts, and festivals)
- Closure of entertainment centers (e.g., theaters, museums, and casinos)
- Non-leisure stores are allowed to reopen in malls.
- Restaurants may only serve to-go orders and deliveries.
- Educational institutions may continue classes to finish the academic year.
- Essential construction projects may resume.
- LGU should enforce curfew covering non-workers
- The general public, except those aged 20 and below and 60 and above, can go out to buy necessities.
Just because ECQ is lifted does not mean that the risk of acquiring the virus is lower in their area. Everyone must take the necessary measures to stay safe. While government regulations can help minimize the risk, everyone must do their part and take complete responsibility for their health. To keep COVID-19 and other infectious diseases at bay, take note of these simple protective measures.
How to Protect Yourself after ECQ
1. Keep your face masks on
Expect changes in regulations and social norms. Other than dealing with temperature checks at building entrances, certain establishments may require visitors to wear a face mask as a safety measure.
Since face masks are scarce, it is recommended to make the most out of each piece one owns.
2. Continue to practice social distancing
Social distancing remains the most effective measure to combat the virus. While it may be impossible to detach from social interactions completely, it is recommended to avoid any unnecessary contact.
If you cannot avoid being in a public place with other people, make sure to keep a safe distance of 6 feet from them.
3. Keep washing your hands
There is a reason why—even before COVID-19—people were taught to wash their hands regularly. It is important now more than ever, to practice this.
Contact with other people and common surfaces will increase once GCQ starts. Therefore, practicing good hygiene such as washing hands will still help prevent the spread of the virus. Keeping a small bottle of hand sanitizer or alcohol will also be useful when handling money and items touched by others.
4. Avoid unnecessary travel
Do not plan a vacation just yet once travel is declared safe. Even though plane tickets and hotel prices are likely to be cheaper, it is important to note that another wave of the virus is highly likely once quarantine measures are lifted. For those traveling overseas, it will be extremely difficult if lockdowns are suddenly implemented in an unfamiliar country.
Everyone should follow a golden rule of only going out when necessary. Limit exposure to activities, such as going to the bank, drug store, or grocery.
5. Refrain from visiting friends immediately
A more relaxed social restriction is not a cue for one to take things easy. People may wish to visit friends as soon as possible, but keep in mind that the virus is still out there, with no known cure. This should be avoided, especially if high-risk individuals live at the place to be visited, so there will less potential exposure risk.
Life After Lockdown
Just like any other disease, prevention is better than cure for COVID-19. Given that a vaccine is still not commercially available, everyone needs to take matters into their own hands and be responsible for their own health. Following the tips above significantly lowers the risks from COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.
Have you been experiencing symptoms of COVID-19? Please contact our HealthHub for proper testing. For COVID-19 and other health-related matters, you can trust Makati Medical Center to assist you.