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Opinion: When S Hits the Fan

When there’s a big typhoon in the Philippines, we follow the protocol on class and work cancellations. This protocol has been built on experience since around 20 typhoons enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility every year. 


The same can’t be said for the present COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) outbreak. The closest the world knows of such a health crisis is SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which, according to the World Health  Organization, produced more than 8,000 cases and 774 deaths from November 2002 to July 2003. SARS-affected countries such as Taiwan and Hong Kong learned the hard way, but are now better prepared for a similar outbreak.


COVID-19 is highly infectious, affects people with compromised health, and is arguably bigger in scope. For us here in the Philippines, there’s no precedent. The cholera outbreaks that pepper our history are probably the closest we’ve experienced to this recent crisis. More than ever, we need the input of sociologists, anthropologists, and psychologists on how humans have behaved and should behave during these events.


 Everyone wants things to go back to normal. But for now, we accept things just as they are. Have you ever imagined going through so many temperature checks before entering an establishment? We want to live as normal as possible without disrupting the economy. But the economy has already been disrupted due to massive fear, and may take a turn for the worse—or, we hope, for the better.


In the meantime, we can do the following: 1) Educate ourselves with proper information, 2) Exercise proper hygiene, and 3) Prepare our resources. 


Take time to draft your SHTF plan. And in case S doesn’t Hit the Fan then no problem, you can breathe easy. The time you spent on preparing isn’t wasted time. Because the more ready you are, the better it is for all of us. 


Donna May Lina is Executive Producer of Panahon.TV, a weather, climate change, and preparedness program, which airs daily at 5:00 am on OnePH, Cignal. She spoke at the 3rd Asian Broadcasting Union (ABU) Media Summit on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction in Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2017. She also attended and covered the United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan in 2015.