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FIRING LINE: Celebrate with caution

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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

In previous years, this would be when Firing Line warned firecracker-crazy Pinoys not to throw caution to the wind, lest we lose fingers or families to fires.

Now that COVID-19 infections have eased up and we can actually enjoy the New Year with loved ones and friends amid this pandemic, let’s not allow our celebrations to be short-lived – all because we refuse to be careful about our health and the safety of others.

Make no mistake about it, COVID-19 is not off our backs just yet. Yes, the tally of daily cases has dipped to its lowest in the last 22 months, but a couple of days before Christmas, the week-on-week positivity rate this December has seen a steady uptick in Metro Manila.

For those not so keen on monitoring the daily COVID-19 caseload, the “positivity rate” refers to the percentage of people who turn up positive for the virus among all those who took the test.

OCTA Research Group fellow Guido David pointed out that from an average positivity rate of 0.62 in the period of December 12 to 18 in Metro Manila, the figure went up to 0.77 in the week of December 16 to 22. On a national scale, the positivity rate hit 2 percent – the highest since the tail-end of the surge last month.

Although the increase may be attributed to the greater number of people having themselves tested in order to travel during the Yuletide season, David emphasized the need for holidaymakers to strictly abide by public health standards to prevent a snowballing of cases by the second week of January 2022.

The detection of three imported cases of the Omicron variant in the Philippines should also not be downplayed as global figures are a firm testament to the rabid transmissibility of this variant of concern. So, enjoy the rest of the holidays – but include personal and social health responsibility in your list of New Year’s resolutions.

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Firing Line celebrates Germany’s clear and present stance against China’s bullying in the South China Sea, manifesting in its warship “Bayern’s” freedom of navigation mission in the Indo-Pacific region beginning last week.

Last year, Germany, the United Kingdom, and France sent a joint Note Verbale to the United Nations to declare their legal position in support of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), its application over maritime claims and the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.

Now, this legal position takes the form of naval action as Bayern is deployed for the next six months in this maritime area which China has turned into its bullying playground.

Vice Admiral Kay-Achim Schonbach, Germany’s Chief of Navy, affirmed its commitment to step up engagement in Asia and expand its security and defense cooperation with regional partners. I applaud Schonbach for calling on China to abide by international rules-based order in this maritime region.

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email firingline@ymail.com or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at https://www.thephilbiznews.com

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