FIRING LINE: Omicron battle begins

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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

Yuletide cheer from the Child born in Bethlehem is still very much in the air post-holiday. And yet, netizens have been preoccupied with “the crucifixion” – that of Gwyneth Chua, the well-documented Omicron super-spreader dubbed as Makati’s “Poblacion Girl.”

Authorities vowed to prosecute the young Filipina for her wanton disregard for pandemic protocols. Clearly, she will have to face the consequences of her actions well beyond the limits of legal penalties. I’m convinced, though – without any attempt at exoneration by perception – that she’s already learned her lesson harshly.

Any person with a conscience must feel rotten inside for having infected other people with a potentially deadly disease, all the more, since the victims are her friends and their families.

But her amplified story should serve a higher purpose and have us realize that her infamy and recklessness are not all her own. After all, there must’ve been many Gwyneths among us for COVID-19 cases to spike from a couple of hundreds to over 4,000 within the same week.

So, instead of being Pontius Pilates, perhaps our efforts at jeering and meme-ing on social media are better spent on proactive steps within our families and circles to raise a formidable community defense against the Omicron threat.

I’m talking about convincing people within our sphere of influence to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Unfortunately, as lofty as Vaccine Czar Carlito Galvez Jr. described the “achievements” of the Duterte administration in the vaccination front, the fact remains that only 40 percent of our population is protected by vaccines.

Let’s not tolerate our balikbayan relatives and friends to skip mandatory quarantine or host big gatherings where all caution is thrown to the wind. As travelers, let’s be responsible and disciplined – even if others around us ditch the health protocols. We owe it to ourselves and the families we tag along or go home to.

Much work needs to be done to address vaccine hesitancy. And giving boosters to the working people needs to be stepped up, more ideally, with the help of the private sector. Companies should be allowed to use their stock of vaccines on their employees. It would be more efficient and limit the movement of members of each business organization. Do this in haste before the vaccines expire.

I applaud the railway sector for including random antigen testing among willing passengers of LRT and MRT lines. That would be a helpful gauge of how prevalent the virus is among the commuting public. Once again, I appeal to Secretary Vince Dizon to work for free testing to cover a broader range of sectors and people to help keep the transmission in check.

We’ve all known that Omicron was a matter of when not if. We’ve been given our holidays to relax and celebrate. Now it’s time to get up and beat this thing together.

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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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