Mid-March, Philippine’s president Rodrigo Duterte declared a lockdown of the country’s capital, Manila – home to 12 million people – in order to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus. As of March 15, there was 111 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines, and 6 deaths, according to the Philippine Department of Health. A few days later, an “enhanced community quarantine” was imposed on the whole of Luzon island, where half the population of the Philippines lives. Mass gatherings were prohibited, schools shut down and all public transportation has been suspended. However, the operations of essential services such as hospitals, pharmacies and hypermarkets – are allowed to continue.
On the beginning of our third lockdown week, there are 1,418 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines, and 71 deaths. over the past three weeks, the streets of Metro Manila have been eerily quiet and empty. Only a few pedestrians moving masked, at a quick and resolute step as if to escape an invisible danger. In front of the supermarkets, a long lineup of people. Supermarkets are leaving people getting in, to the drip, to respect social distancing. To keep the disease at distance, keep your distances and always stay more than a meter away from each other. “Distance” has become the key word over the few past days.
The youngest of the family is learning that he must now keep his distance not only from his school, but from his school friends and friends from our building condo. More generally when he is coming across someone, he is supposed to deviate, as much as possible and without touching the walls or anything else. Even if he meets someone he knows, he should avoid to be too spontaneous, to get to too close to greet and if it is a friend, “please do not lend your toys!”.
He must also stay away from his older sister’s room during the day. She should not be disturbed because she follows her classes at a distance. Classes and homework at distance, without friends, without social life. The youngest observes that she went oddly from “Don’t spend too much time behind the screens” to “she can spend almost her whole day behind the screens”
So far when she came out of her room, the youngest was delighted to forget the isolation for a while by going to the pool with her. But the community judged that it was still not enough distance. They first had the idea of excluding from the edges of the pool the nurses who came from outside our pretty community. Another reading of the concept of social distancing! But it was not enough. They wanted more social distancing again! The floating objects and balloons did not always respect social distancing. You have to be wary of everything, even chlorine which could be coaxed by covid19! So, the closure of the swimming pool has been decreed. Children are now allowed to play around the pool but not inside. The rational also took distance!
The youngest will therefore spend more time at home. But without being too noisy because Dad now works in the middle of the living room. He too has apparently taken distance from his office. So far away, that he no longer goes to the office. While Mom continues to work from her desk in her bedroom. Mom, she was already working from home before everything took distance. But Dad what is he doing there? He says he works, but Dad’s job was to go to the office!
Everything with distance. Even the next door neighbors, we don’t see them anymore. It seems their dog bizarly no longer needs to go for a walk. The dog also took distance!
The daily life has taken distance, and everything is becoming weird.
When the youngest questions, he hears that it is necessary to put distance to protect oneself from an imbecile virus. He finds it all very strange. He understands that he must protect himself and others, but he can’t help thinking that the remedy could be worse than the disease. And, the strangest thing is that no one can tell him how long it will take to kill this virus. No one can tell him when the adults will decide to remove the distance! And what will happen when suddenly it will be decided that people will be permitted to rubbing together again?
Quarantine can certainly delay and decrease the height of the contamination peak, and thus reduce mortality. But do not mythologize the effectiveness of quarantine, do not think that it is the absolute weapon with magical powers.