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Bottom dweller

The Philippines has been declared the worst place to be in a pandemic among 53 countries in Bloomberg’s COVID Resilience ranking this month.

To be fair to our unfortunate country, other Southeast Asian countries also slid to the bottom of the list with Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam ranking 49th to 52nd respectively. The ranking is based on 12 datapoints related to virus containment.

The country scores low on all four of its metrics related to reopening, had a vaccine coverage of 20 percent which was among the lowest, and had implemented one of the most stringent lockdowns.

“The Philippines faces a perfect storm in that it’s grappling with the more ferocious delta variant at the same time as it works with an inadequate testing regime and sees disruptions to its economy and people’s livelihoods as the pandemic continues to rage,” Bloomberg said.

Additionally, flight capacity is down 74 percent below 2019 levels and the country’s borders remain sealed to visitors.

It also underperforms in terms of COVID containment, posting the second-worst positive test rate of 27 percent, leading Bloomberg to say that government is only testing the sickest patients for COVID, making it likely there are high levels of undetected infection in the community.

Furthermore, the country is “unlikely to meet” its goal of inoculating all adults, or 70 percent of the population this year.

The Philippines has consistently ranked near the bottom of Bloomberg’s COVID index, which of course, our government officials call “unfair.”

Malacañang reacted to the news by saying it was not surprised that the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries were at the bottom of the list that developed nations topped. Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque passed the blame to rich countries that have been hoarding vaccines, making supply inaccessible and hampering vaccination efforts.

The title of worst country to be in a pandemic hardly comes as a surprise to the people who have been enduring its government’s largely ineffective response ever since the pandemic was declared. The defeatist attitude of Malacañang that would rather pass blame than come up with the determination and solutions to get us out of the rut we have been stuck in for 18 months doesn’t give much hope either.

What has to change so we are no longer the worst country to be stuck in a pandemic?*

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