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Finally, a voice of reason in the Philippines. Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia, much like John the Baptist, is crying out in the wilderness. While Gov. Garcia is not calling for the repentance of sins, she is calling for an end to the COVID-19 mass hysteria. Consequently, today’s post, “COVID-19 Has Created ‘Unreasonable Fear’– Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia,” salutes the Governor.

COVID-19 Has Created “Unreasonable Fear” Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia

Governor Garcia is bucking the current trend of fear mongering among officials in the Philippines.

Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia believes that the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is not as deadly as it was earlier projected. The Governor cites local data and statistics, “real science.” The Governor recently expressed her opinions as reported by the Inquirer.net.

While the entire island of Cebu has a high number of COVID-19 cases, the Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH-7) said the virus has a very low death rate here at below one percent.

Garcia said COVID-19 has created “unreasonable fear” among the people––something that should stop.

“We now have two pandemics: the COVID-19 pandemic and the other one is the fear pandemic,” she said.

Fear, the governor said, is caused by the fact that COVID-19 is a new strain and people know nothing about it when it started to spread in the country last March.

DOH-7 Director Jaime Bernadas echoed Garcia’s stance. The Director said people should not fear COVID-19 since there are diseases more deadly than the dreaded virus.

“From what we see, we had difficulty at the start of the pandemic because we lack the data. The data we previously used as a basis are from China, Italy, and the United States. We now saw that the data here in the Philippines is different from the ones we saw in other countries,” Bernadas said in Cebuano.

“Because of these data, our views and understanding of the behavior of the virus have enlightened us,” he added.

Data from the DOH-7 showed that the entire island of Cebu has 2,118 COVID-19 cases as of May 19, with 1,830 in Cebu City, 133 in Mandaue City, 60 in Lapu-Lapu City, and 70 in Cebu province.

Eighteen overseas Filipino workers, who arrived in Cebu, as well as seven health workers, also tested positive for the COVID-19.

The island has recorded 33 deaths due to COVID-19.

While Garcia and Bernadas believed that people should not fear COVID-19, they said everyone should continue to adopt the “new normal” and observe health protocols, such as wearing masks, physical distancing, and proper hygiene.

With a population of 3.2 million and only 14 deaths from March 19 to May 19, Garcia said Cebu province has a COVID-19 death rate of only three persons per million people.

In Cebu City, with a population of 1.01 million, the death rate is 14 people for every million.

Garcia said the province also has only 70 COVID-19 infections and most of these, or more than 80 percent, are asymptomatic.

She compared COVID-19 to cardiovascular disease, the province’s leading cause of death, which has a mortality rate of 1,075 deaths per one million people. Pneumonia, she said, has 465 infections per million of the population, while diabetes has 117 per million people.

“Figures cannot lie. The three deaths per million are just so small compared to cardiovascular diseases. Now why I am saying this? Maybe it’s about time we consider other aspects of work that need to be done,” Garcia said.

Garcia repeatedly emphasized that people should now move on from fear of COVID-19, especially that it has already gravely affected the economy and the livelihood of many.

Bernadas said other illnesses, such as dengue and tuberculosis, infected and killed more people than COVID-19.

“We saw in our statistics that, in general, we do not have to fear the virus. The government is gradually telling us to adapt to the new normal. The virus should not be a reason for us to set aside our work, our livelihood, and the services rendered by the government, as we continue to be obsessed with COVID-19,” Bernadas said.

Hungry Filipinos Almost Double under COVID-19 Lockdowns

Because of draconian quarantine measures, hungry Filipinos almost doubled under COVID-19 lockdowns. That’s a result of a survey from Social Weather Stations (SWS) in a report from the Inquirer.net.

The Social Weather Stations is a social research institution in the Philippines. It is a private, non-stock, nonprofit institution. Furthermore, it is the foremost public-opinion polling body in the Philippines.

SWS reported on Thursday, May 21, 2020, that 16.7 percent of the respondents or 3.9 million families experienced involuntary hunger in the past three months. This is a massive increase compared to December 2019 figures. Recorded in December by the SWS was an 8.8 percent involuntary hunger rates.

This is also the highest hunger rate registered under President Rodrigo Duterte’s term.

Furthermore, the survey results revealed that the hunger rate rose in all localities. Recorded in Metro Manila was the sharpest increase, the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the past three months, hunger rates in Metro Manila were at an alarming 20.8 percent, from just 9.3 percent in December 2019. This means that one of five Metro Manila residents or an estimated 693,000 families experienced involuntary hunger from February to April.

Moderate hunger in Metro Manila, explained by SWS as hunger only once or a few times in the last three months, rose from 7.3 percent to 19.4 percent.

In Luzon, the hunger rates rose from 6.3 percent to 12.6 percent (1.4 million families.)

Hunger increased from 9.3 percent to 14.6 percent (436,000 families) in the Visayas.  It went from 12.7 percent to 24.2 percent (709,000 families) in Mindanao.

Government Help not Enough?

The recent survey also provided a follow-up question for the respondents. Have their families received any form of assistance like food packs since the COVID-19 pandemic started?

According to SWS, 99 percent said that their family received some food to cope with the crisis. Consequently, has government aid been sufficient? Ninety-nine percent of the respondents also noted that they received food packs from government.

We’ve donated all our food packs from the local government to our neighbors. They certainly need the help more than we do. However, I wish the government would follow Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia’s advice.

Let’s quit all the fear mongering over this COVID-19 hysteria.

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