Iloilo on the world stage in fight vs. Covid 19

The images of Ilonggo doctors, nurses and hospital staff wearing brightly-colored personal protective clothing have spread across the world to bring cheer and hope to the hundreds of millions of people quarantined in their homes because of the corona virus pandemic.

It just started as an idea on how to provide PPEs for Iloilo hospitals at a time when these were in short supply. A nurse at the Medical City, Andre Pe, decided medical front-liners shoudn’t have to wait until the first shipments of PPEs arrived in Iloilo City. The Covid 19 virus wasn’t about to slow down to give our hospitals time to prepare.

Pe, who has a passion for fashion design, took out his pencils and paper and went to work. He quickly drew a design for PPEs that volunteers could use to sew them. Iloilo City mayor Jerry P. Trenas came to know about the initial batch of PPEs that Pe and his group had turned out, and he saw it was an answer to Iloilo’s inadequate supply to shield frontliners from this deadly virus. He directive mass production of the PPEs.

Pe’s design called for bright colors of liquid-repelling materials. There was blue, red, pink, black and white. In a few days, the production lines were churning attractive-looking PPEs. It certainly lifted the spirits of the doctors, nurses and hospital staff that started wearing them. Instead of letting the threat of Covid 19 to worry them, they started posting pictures and videos of themselves wearing the locally-produced PPEs.

The images and videos instantly captured the hearts of people here and abroad. These were shared and reshared on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Ilonggos taught people around the world that we know how to fight this disease, and fight we will with flair and cheer. It wasn’t just about the PPEs being colorful and attractive. The effort has even adopted movie themes like “Star Wars” to add fashion flavor to the design.

The viral photos and videos also reflect the solid community effort that has been put into Iloilo’s efforts against the corona virus. Trenas and Governor Arthur Defensor, Jr., along with the local chief executives of the province, have done well to enforce the enhanced community quarantine to keep the virus from infecting more people. From the reports of the DOH, Iloilo has effectively contained the virus. The number of infections has been kept to a minimum.

On a personal note, I am saddened that a close family friend in Roxas City has become a casualty of the virus. The feeling is different when somebody you know falls victim to Covid 19. In the past, the soaring number of deaths were clinical statistics as I watched the WHO and DOH briefings on a daily basis. But when the sad news about my friend’s death reached me, I discovered that the Covid 19 pandemic is much closer to me than I was prepared to accept.

It reinforces the message that nobody is safe from Covid 19. You can never know who might be a carrier of the virus. Even a healthy looking individual can be a bearer of death. Hence, it’s absolutely necessary that we adhere to the home quarantine that’s being enforced. Just by staying at home, we can save lives. This is a crucial part of the containment strategy that is the only effective way to bring the pandemic to a halt.