How COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Suddenly Changed Our Lives in the Philippines

We never thought our lives can change in an instant as COVID-19 (Coronavirus) became a threat to our health and the economy. Reality bites, we’re not ready.

As of writing, we Filipinos are in the first week of the Enhanced Community Quarantine. Our lives definitely changed in an instant reminding me of Thanos’ infamous finger snap. Our health is the major concern in this global pandemic. Yet, it is pretty obvious that it hit the global economy really hard.

Let’s start by learning more about the COVID-19 (Coronavirus), how it became a global pandemic. The most interesting part – how it changed Filipinos’ lives. I will share some tips and relevant sources about this topic as well.

What is COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and how it became a global pandemic?

You must have heard and learned a lot about this new virus. It is classified as a family of MERS and SARS, causing influenza-like symptoms and worst, a severe respiratory illness. The first documented case of COVID-19 originated from Wuhan, China on December 1, 2019. The number of cases started to rise all over the world. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine available to prevent or cure this new strain of coronavirus. Recently, there are patients who recovered from COVID-19. Most of them do not have underlying conditions and are in the middle-aged group.

Here’s a video by the Wall Street Journal sharing facts and information on how COVID-19 (Coronavirus) became a pandemic. The video will give you significant timelines and how it has affected other countries like South Korea, Iran, and Italy. The main focus of this post is how it affected the Philippines, therefore I will not dive into its global effects.

The Timeline of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Pandemic in the Philippines

Here’s a short timeline of significant events from the first recorded case in the Philippines up to Pres. Duterte’s declaration of the Philippines under a state of calamity.

January 30 – The first confirmed case of the disease in the Philippines was a 38-year-old Chinese woman, confined in San Lazaro Hospital, Metro Manila. The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine began to facilitate and conduct confirmatory tests for the disease

February 2 – The second confirmed case is a 44-year-old Chinese man. They declared the man as the first confirmed death from the disease outside mainland China.

February 5 – They announced the first confirmed case of a Filipino outside the Philippines.  A crew member of the cruise ship Diamond Princess quarantined off the coast of Yokohama, Japan. DOH confirms the third confirmed case.

February 9-22 – They quarantined repatriates from Wuhan at the New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac. The repatriates were released after getting cleared for the disease.

March 5-6 – They confirmed and announced the fourth and fifth cases in the country.  The first one is a 62-year-old Filipino male who frequented a Muslim prayer hall in San Juan, Metro Manila. He didn’t have a travel history abroad. Both were Filipino, making them the first and second confirmed cases of Filipinos inside the Philippines. Travel ban going to mainland China, Hongkong, Macau, and South Korea was imposed.

March 7 – The sixth case was the wife of the first confirmed Filipino to have contracted COVID-19. They confirmed it is the first local transmission in the country. The Department of Health raised Code Red Sub-Level 1 as a precautionary measure.

March 9 – Ten new cases were confirmed. The President issued Proclamation No. 922, declaring the country under a state of public health emergency. All classes were suspended, in public and private, in Metro Manila from March 10 to 14. Four more cases were confirmed.

March 12 – Three new cases were confirmed. The President announced a partial lockdown on Metro Manila beginning at 12 midnight on March 15 until April 14.

March 14 – They announced 47 new cases, the largest increase in the number of confirmed cases in the Philippines. Oriental Mindoro has been placed under a “voluntary community quarantine”.

March 16 – Two new cases were confirmed. The entire Luzon has been placed under an “enhanced community quarantine”.

March 17 – Forty-five new cases were confirmed. The President signed Proclamation No. 929, declaring the Philippines under a state of calamity for a tentative period of six months.

How did the COVID-19 pandemic change Filipinos’ lives?

Let me ask, how are you? I’m sure a lot of things changed: the way you work, the way you do things at home. Suddenly, your priorities and the way you spend your time shifted from one thing to another.

Companies were shaken and employees were baffled

As soon as the President declared the country under a state of public health emergency, companies tried their best to mitigate the situation by ensuring online access is available and by setting up VPN access for possible work from home arrangements. Skeletal workforce is initially planned since the government still allowed employees to report for work. Some might have been very lax during this time but some took the opportunity to establish their capability to allow most of their employees to work from home.

For those who have prepared, they remained to stay functional after the announcement of the partial lockdown on Metro Manila and enhanced community quarantine for Luzon. Businesses who were not able to finalize their procedures and guidelines left their employees baffled whether they are still required to go to work and how they will be paid during the quarantine. Some businesses, under the non-essential category temporarily stopped its operation until further notice.

The government through DOLE implemented TUPAD or Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers. It is a community-based package of assistance that provides emergency employment for displaced workers, underemployed and seasonal workers, for a minimum period of 10 days, but not to exceed a maximum of 30 days, depending on the nature of work to be performed.

Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) started to distribute cash aid under the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) Bayanihan Fund: Tulong Laban sa COVID-19. Read more about the program and get to know the list of eligible recipients of this cash aid here.

There is also the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps)  that provides conditional cash grants to the poorest of the poor, to improve the health, nutrition, and the education of children aged 0-18. Read more about it here.

LGUs, Mayors and Barangay captains are tasked to respond to the needs of their community as part of their responsibilities.

Work from home is suddenly an option

A lot of employees are dreaming of work from home setup. Aside from personal preference, the traffic worsened months before the outbreak and companies are actually looking at this option for more flexibility in the workforce. As they say, be careful what you wish for. When Metro Manila is partially locked down and Luzon is placed under enhanced community quarantine, the government pleads the companies to arrange a work from home setup for their employees. Some were required to bring their desktops at home, while some were requested to stay at a nearby hotel/office to work.

READ: Work From Home Must-Have Chrome Extensions to Increase Productivity

However, some are exempted from the mandatory home quarantine and are allowed to travel within Luzon based on the guidelines provided by the government:

  • Health workers & frontliners
  • Select government workers
  • Diplomats
  • Farmers and cargo drivers
  • Skeletal workforce of business offering basic services and commodities
  • Media personnel
  • BPO employees
  • Hotel employees

I believe these people should be provided utmost support in terms of medical supplies and equipment to ensure their safety. Their lives and their family’s lives are at stake.

Procedures were implemented to maintain social distancing

Curfews, quarantine pass, limiting one person per household allowed to go out to buy in the grocery are just a few implemented procedures in different cities. Strict compliance is expected from all of us. Military checkpoints are everywhere and one should possess a valid ID and enough reason why they should let you pass the checkpoint.

Liquor ban is also implemented. Food services are only allowed to accept take out and delivery services.

Social gatherings are banned such as weddings.

NOTE: I might update this post for more insights, I just don’t have everything on my mind right now and this post really has to go out.

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How are you during these times?

If you’re still trying to figure out how you will spend your days under ECQ, I found 15 activities to help you cope with social distancing from Canva and it made me realize how productive I can be while I’m at home after work.

I’m a full-time employee on a daily commute to Manila. We’re on the first week as of writing and I can say the “work from home” dream came true with a great consequence. I am one of the employees who had this privilege and it changed the way companies look at productivity. Various time checking, reports, and monitoring are implemented by companies to ensure that we are able to support and keep the business going amid the lockdown and quarantine.

The first thing I appreciate is waking up early without getting all the fuss to get to the office on time. Group chats are getting the hang of reminding everyone of their daily routines in the office. It’s crazy but yeah, we miss it. After office hours, you may opt to work for a few more hours or simply take your dinner and make quality time with your family. It feels liberating, yet it comes with great responsibility.

Some of our friends are getting bored and did the things they never thought they would in their entire lives. Tik Tok, anyone?

My weekend has been very productive when finally we are able to do some general cleaning. And, hey, here’s my latest post for you!

This setup made me realize how essential it is to have an emergency fund, at least to make sure everything is covered for a month or so. You never know when you’re gonna need it!

Final thoughts

Just a reminder, we’re still in the first week and I hope we’ll get through this global pandemic soon. I hope most of us adjusted in this sudden shift with a new routine to keep ourselves productive at work and at home. Finally, Filipinos learned to plan their groceries in advance and made every second count whenever they made it outside.

We are not ready in general but I do believe that the least we can do is for us to be vigilant and proactive especially at times like this. We should learn to protect ourselves and follow your gut. If you think your life, or your family, is at risk, do what you think is necessary. Here are a few links to check and please follow the social media accounts of news media, your respective city, and barangay officials for local updates and tips to fight Covid-19.

World Health Organization

Department of Health FB Page

Confirmed Cases and Deaths by Country, Territory, or Conveyance

If you have questions or anything you want to talk about this topic, drop them in the comments section.

Stay safe everyone!

Drop your comments and questions below!

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How Coronavirus Became a Global Pandemic | WSJ

2020 coronavirus pandemic in the Philippines

Who are exempted from the COVID-19 lockdown in Luzon?


2 more COVID-19 patients in PH recover, total now at 15: health official


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5 thoughts on “How COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Suddenly Changed Our Lives in the Philippines

  • March 22, 2020 at 12:04 pm

    Grabe tlaga yung biglaang pangyayare ng dahil sa covid19 . Sana po tlaga matapos na ito at wala ng madagdagan pa ang case 🙏

  • March 23, 2020 at 11:03 am

    As for me ang dami kong what of,truth to be told nag aaalala ako sa pamilya ko,lalo na na may anak akong maliliit ,sa banda ano na kayang pwedeng mangyari pang nagtagal pa ang lockdown at sa buong mundo 😭 Sobrang laking pagbabago at im sure 1st time natin lahat ito..Us of now all we need to do is be cautious and Cooperate sa gobyerno natin.We need to contain this virus we dont want na dumami ng dumami ang infected 🙏 Praying this will be over soon

  • March 23, 2020 at 11:11 am

    Nakakabigl,at kahit ako masasabi kong hindi napag handaan dahil at first in denial pa kami ..we thought na simpleng flu langbyan..magagamot din yan sa sobrang advance na natin ngayon madali na makahanap or makadiscover ng gamot jan..Not until today ..Na nasa quarantine tayo at nasa sitwasyon tayong ganito..Nakakalungkot at ang tanging magagawa natin ay magdasal dshil walang nakakaalam hanggang kelan tayo ganito 😭🙏

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