Hell Week

By Mary Grace Catapang
Published 2020 April 3 – From Special Issue on COVID-19

I have just finished my prelab report for Chemistry after scheduling a hell week’s worth of endless requirements when the news of class suspension due to COVID-19 reverberated on social media and in the dorm where I was staying. The class suspension may have saved me from going through a swift blow of schoolworks to be accomplished, but the root cause and repercussions of this suspension, which further escalated in the next few days, were not life-saving at all. And surprisingly, that week still turned out to be a “hell week” probably not just for me, but for the entire country as well.

My supposedly quick trip to the supermarket for my daily grocery shopping became a long excruciating wait in line as tons of people flocked the grocery store, panic-buying and stocking up on food and other necessities to prepare for whatever’s about to come in the next few days or weeks. This experience of standing in line in a public place full of people felt like forever as I thought about how this provides a perfect channel for virus transmission. I cannot even remember how many times I showered my hands with alcohol out of fear that someone within that store is a carrier of COVID-19 and I might have touched something that carries the virus.

On that same day, the president declared class suspension for more than a month. Metro Manila was to be placed in a community quarantine, implementing travel restrictions within 48 hours. I couldn’t believe what was happening a virus, even smaller than our billions of cells in the body, is single-handedly turning the tables over our entire lives- hampering the workforce, adversely

affecting the economy, and challenging the welfare and safety of everyone. I personally had to make a decision of whether to go home to my province or to just stay in my seven-story almost empty university dormitory alone for more than a month without regular classes. As I weighed the pros and cons of both, I decided to just go home and be with my family.

Days after my arrival, Oriental Mindoro, my home province, declared a voluntary community quarantine, prohibiting travel to and from the province until April 14. This took a toll on different sectors of the community as restrictions on the transport of goods was also imposed, allowing only port authorities to deliver goods from the port to the towns at a certain price. Land transportation to the adjacent province, Occidental Mindoro, was also restricted, leaving some people stranded and unable to reach their destination.

The national and local governments are imposing strict measures to control the spread of this virus. Now that an enhanced community quarantine was declared in Luzon-stopping non-essential work and public transportation from operating, the lives of many will be adversely affected. I’m just lucky enough that my parents are not affected by the ‘no work, no pay’ policy and still have the means to continue my education through online classes. In this situation, all I can do is to practice safety precautions, cooperate, yet still be critical of the government’s measures, and hope that this will be over soon.

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