The dawn of a global challenge

April 1, 2020 | By: Arch. Benjamin K. Panganiban, Jr., (as first published in The Manila Times last March 31, 2020 )

AFTER the start of 2020, the world was looking at a new beginning. One that would provide better opportunities in life, to families and to businesses. All the people in the world were full of optimism and encouragement. The Year of the Metal Rat promised to bring good luck and prosperity. It meant the start of something new for all economies of the world on the right foot, exchanging business cultures and economic projections for trades, commerce and services.

Last year was when China became a thorn in the United States President Donald Trump’s economic growth for the US. China started to flex its muscles, reach and economic might.

Europe once dominated by European-branded vehicles, now have their own car parts assembled and even delivered from China. African countries reached out to China aid and embraced Chinese nationals as their immigrants. China went on a crusade of good relations with its neighboring countries and the rattled US had to threaten and haggle for concessions and bargains in order for US companies to survive. In short, everything was now made in China.

What was good with China is that its level of work ethics and direction for economic superpower was infectious that the Chinese embrace their social and communist government with much gusto that now you see around the world the expansion of China in tourism, sports, importation, agriculture, medicine and manufacturing sectors where once they focused on military arms, diplomatic relations and social and development concerns for their countrymen.

What was scary was the origin of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), which everyone around the world now realized started in the Chinese city of Wuhan. This was initially taken for granted by everyone around the world as just one of those highly irregular viruses such as severe acute respiratory syndrome. But China became worried when the death toll started to pile up in Wuhan, closing borders within the country to address the spread of this unique disease. As of March 22, 2020, the death toll worldwide already reached 14,641 with more than 335,000 people infected, according to CNN World News, and is already classified by the World Health Organization as a pandemic. A lot of countries have shut down, disallowing movements of people to and from their countries. The Philippines was no exception. So close to China and one of those early countries to react after Singapore was diagnosed to have this carrier virus, the Philippines started swiftly its “community quarantine,” then “enhanced community quarantine” in Luzon, then a state of calamity in the whole country before giving all the local government units (LGUs) the initiative to contain this virus within their jurisdictions.

Each LGU came out with their own policies of how to prevent the disease from spreading. Social distancing, flattening the curve, curfew time, barangay-level lockdown and even LGUs taking care of their constituents became the new normal. What is frightening are the lack of temperature scanners, the lack of healthcare personnel and which hospital would accommodate those found positive with Covid-19.

There were different approaches to the virus from social media, to initial tri-media reports and even official government health agencies. Social awareness has become the norm. As the country looked for answers, the pandemic was spreading quickly at an exponential rate.

Italy, a country that did not take the case seriously at the onset, is now one of the leading countries with a death rate higher than China. Almost every country now has the virus with each one trying to address it, sometimes seeking help from others. It is ironic that none of the European countries came forward to the rescue of Italy as they too were occupied in dealing with the virus.

So what do we know about Covid-19? Scientists do not exactly yet know where and how it started. This is still a mystery they are figuring out. Since they do not clearly understand where it came from. Therefore, policies, procedures and even medical approaches are not yet in place on how to prevent this disease from happening again. Most medical researchers assume that this virus originated from bats and was transmitted to man through food though this remains unclear.

However, we do know that Covid-19 is deadly and has claimed so many lives already. What we do know is that this originated in Wuhan, China. Therefore it is imperative for Filipinos to prevent this virus from spreading.

In the next column, we will deal with the effects of this virus in relation to the architecture profession and probably other professions. What it has caused the country, the economy and the affected workforce.


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