HEROES, FRONT AND BACK
The declaration by Pres. Rodrigo R. Duterte of a nationwide State of Calamity and the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) highlights the nobility of health workers, doctors and nurses, police and the military, and their force multipliers.
They are on a confrontation with a novel but deadly disease, on protocols yet experimental as data and experience are insufficiently collected, collated, checked and cross-checked.
This is like saving one from drowning while learning how to swim.
But as in law, ignorance cannot be an excuse. There they toil, with open hours and close to risk. They work, as more and more bodies are weakened. They work, until they are worked out.
They are the frontliners of the battle for survival. God, they are.
Their sheen deflects the sparkle for a sector much larger, much at work, too: the seafarers and the off-shore auxiliaries. Working 24/7 on waters of all continents, in war zones and pirate lairs, in calm oceans and angry seas --- moving and delivering 90% of the world’s goods.
If they don’t, who would? How shall food and supplies reach people, energy and materials feed industries? Who will hold on the logistical chain for life and lifestyle?
The irony, maritime is one of the most devastated by the Covid 19 pandemic. Its Capex has lost luster in the exchange markets, its Opex escalating due mostly to non-revenue requirements.
No matter, the common struggle NOW is for humanity not to suffer again a bubonic plague and a Spanish flu which both claimed millions of lives, decimated national economies and dislocated family and personal goals.
Let’s put a face on the backbenchers, taken for granted as their jobs lack cinematic drama.
Pleading is a mother of a 29-year old cook on the Zaandam, a European cruise ship anchored at the Panama Canal due to fear of the disease. More crew than guests are tagged sick because they have to work even if afflicted.
They ask for protective gears, denied by officers this being “offensive” to the guests. After hours, the officers invited them to a drink; they refused being so tired. A few days of these, crew begun falling ill of sore throat, cough, dehydration, fever.
They were asked to disinfect rooms without protective gears; those too sick to work were isolated, given rice and carrot. Those serving feel hunger pangs but they to collect food wasted by the guests.
But, they were still asked to work. Those getting worse were given common medication (like biogesics, strepsil, etc), take their own temperatures for those with thermometers. One asked for medication was given two glasses of water. Only three doctors and five nurses are on board, all general practitioners, all occupied on ministering the guests.
The Captain instructed the crew for their families not to talk to media, on pain of jeopardizing their jobs.
The Foreign Ministry of Canada interceded for her nationals, convinced Panama to allow the Zaandam to traverse the Canal, the US to allow anchor at Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Crew and passengers were teary-eyed, believing the worst is over.
The crisis was not over, even the ships are headed for Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. Not so, Mayor Dean Trantalis started tweeting he will not allow the ship to dock, along with the earlier statement of Chilean Governor Dion DeSantis he will not allow the ship to dock and take away hospital beds for Floridians. Their statements were considered by those onboard as heartless, inhumane, callous, unsympathetic, and cold-blooded, the sink and all.
The Zaandam Crew Relatives Group was formed by digital exchanges to advocate for better treatment of the crew and staff.
Dra. Mayjoy Canillas-Amancio, a pulmonologist and a critical care specialist, is a member who got in touch with crew giving tips on how to cope while ignored by management (like a kitchen crew, isolated for 10 days, released on the 10th day, was instructed to go back to work, cleaning drainages, scrubbing floors and counters. Another was asked to work on the 9th day of isolation; another in isolation for 5 days was given medicine enough for only two days).
They wrestle with uncertainties on pay, overtime, hazard pay, full contract payment. Family relations are strained, stigma gnawing on their self esteem, and they are rejected even in their home communities.
The Millennial Seafarers posted Covid-19 has changed us:
1. Healthcare will be given the attention it deserves.
The next budget may appropriate a larger sum to health care; research and development will once again flourish.
2. Health workers will be heralded as frontliners, too.
Their salaries may be increased at phase with inflation. This pandemic would brought them to hero status and the public will never see them otherwise.
3. Mobile banking will be the norm.
Gone are queues in tellers, boatloads of cash on hands, hassle of filling up forms. Banking is in the palm of our hands.
4. E-learning will be empowered.
Due to the suspension of physical classes, online learning will be unlocked and will push our education system to a whole new level. Customized and more effective methods of teaching will be available whenever, wherever and whoever.
5. Seafarers and OFW’s will need to get another flu shot.
It is already a requirement for seafarers and OFW’s to secure a yellow fever shot and polio vaccine before deployment. They may be back to the Bureau of Quarantine for another dose of vaccination.
6. Recession is inevitable.
Economic doldrum will be felt months after the containment of the virus, and much worse than the 2008 recession. Companies must review their operations protocols, workers will be going to jobs with anxieties, stocks of companies will plummet.
7. Teleconferencing will be the hotshot.
Applications that provide teleconferencing services are on increasing demand. This trend continues after the pandemic to cut operational cost, speed up communication and convenience of business at your own home.
8. Travel and leisure will be undergoing renovation.
It will be back after being suppressed quarantine procedures. But, measures will be put into place to prevent the spread of contagious disease on a macro scale. Persons with flue/fever will be subject to protocols before travel is permitted especially on public transportation, in turn regular sanitation the norm.
9. Germophobia will be the new movement.
People were traumatized by Covid-19, society will become conscious of cleanliness and sanitation with sanitizers and alcohols a common sight in public places. Hand washing will be emphasized like never been before.
10. Individualization will be put into extinction.
“No man is an island” will be mainstream. People will realize to survive and thrive, unity and harmony is the only way. Everyone is responsible for everyone; this pandemic exposed those who care for others and those only for themselves.
A better world will come!