The simple visit to the grocery yesterday to buy a few items for a dinner’s menu was a disaster. Stocks were depleting and queues to the cashier were long. The plan of cooking as a form of family bonding ended up to dining in a restaurant which, interestingly, was almost empty.
What spoiled our plan was the panic buying that resulted from the government’s interesting response to the Corona virus disease (COVID) -19 and spiced up by the proposal of Congressman Joey Salceda (Albay, 2D) to lockdown the National Capital Region, and the press conference-cum-lecture of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (PRRD) last Monday night.
The President, who was silent the previous days, finally came out, suspended the classes at all levels in Metro Manila, and shared that the COVID-19 is a way of “cleansing humanity” the way the Spanish Flu and Bubonic plague did. Though he mentioned that scientists around the world are busy looking for cure, he was tacky enough to say that the “contagion” is continuing local transmission and that there are only a few testing kits. Hence, instead of getting assured, the people panicked.
The panicky mode increased when some grocers started buying larger quantities of isoprophyl and ethyl alcohol, canned goods and tissue papers. It indeed created a bandwagon effect that people appeared to be preparing for a situation similar to a zombie apocalypse.
But in fairness to the President, he opposed Salceda’s proposal saying it is too early considering that there are only 24 official cases of COVID-19 infections. He said he may agree with the lock down if the deaths from COVID-19 reaches 5,000. The announcement, however, did not stick well to the attention of the people more than the limited testing kit. Worse, the President’s message that he will not declare a lock down was further diluted by his rants against Sinophobia and his preference for the Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGOs) which consumed a significant amount of time than original focus of the press conference — the government’s preparations for COVID-19.
So will the panicky atmosphere dissolve? Perhaps not in the next few days.