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Pangs of Paranoia

It took me a long time to realize that the street slang, “praning” is a Filipinization of the word, “paranoid”; just like tsuper is to chauffeur, and taplod is to top load. I think I first heard the word, “praning in a Francis M. song. I thought the usage is exclusive to drug abuse. Along with this understanding is the inference that a person could be “praning” about anything.

I’m going to borrow statements that the good mayor of the City of Naga made in the Brigada Eskwela launching last Saturday at Naga Central School 2, which according to him, he also made about an hour earlier in the Jose Maria Panganiban birth anniversary commemoration event, across the road at Naga Central School 1. Lest I be accused of plagiarism, I’m basically copying his statements and echoing the sentiments within. He shared that, ebola virus (which ravaged much of Africa) had a mortality rate of 50%, which means 50% of those infected with the virus died and the other 50 survived, indicating a 50% chance of recovery and security from death. MERS-CoV (which was once a hot issue) had a mortality rate of 37%. SARS or severe acute respiratory syndrome (another Chinese export, no intention of racism here) had a mortality rate which may range to 50%. While the latest NCOV reportedly has a mortality rate of a distantly diminutive 2%. So, not that I intend to sound morbid, two in a hundred infected people actually meet their deaths, and there’s a great 98% chance of recovery. Bantay Kalusugan Partylist representative (yes, that same Quezon City representative who stuck it out with the former President Gloria Arroyo, who is now a congressman by virtue of the partylist system, in the tradition of Lito Atienza) echoes the same sentiments in a CNN interview. So, what they’re telling us is that we all don’t need to make the face mask a permanent part of our wardrobe because it’s not as deadly as it’s purported or perceive to be. I personally appreciate such assurances and consider them as responsible acts of leadership.

All the horrifying hype seems to be coming through social media with posts of presumably infected people suddenly fainting due to the virus. The night before I was writing this, apologies were given by a Legazpi City man who admitted pranking a mall security guard by pretentiously fainting and falling in front of the public, much to the panic of the audience of his show, who immediately assumed that it was the NCOV hitting a Bicolano. (in less critical times, I personally would have appreciated a good joke like that; but come on.) This is the type which has sent waves of paranoia across the public, that have caused mass purchase of face masks, rubbing alcohol and sanitizer. Maybe, that’s not so harmful. One could argue that being too safe would just decrease the probability of danger. So, it would be okay to overdo safety precautions. At least, there is more certainty of safety. I heard someone argue that it would be better to panic on a non-existent danger than to stay lax with an existent danger. I have to admit that some valid points were raised in that argument. However, such panic creates problems when translated into concrete and actual settings. Because panic stricken people have gone hoarding rubbing alcohol and sanitizers, there have been reports of shortage in the market. Wat now happens to consumers who necessitate these products for other reasons for cleaning materials and other important tasks we have overlooked because we are all caught up with paranoia? One real and serious concern which was raised was that hoarding face masks would divert these resources from health care and hospital personnel, and actual patients who really need these articles in a number of changes on daily basis. As it is, there has been reports of shortage of supply of these deterrents to virus inhalation. (We just don’t know if this shortage is real or artificial.) If doctors, nurses, orderlies and patients run short of face masks, then they and the people they interact with, (which includes the rest of us) run the risk of greater infection, which would stimulate the spread of the virus, if ever it has actually come among us. In this scenario, protection of personal safety would just indirectly cause the further deterioration of a situation which could have had a simple solution.

But then, who are we to stop people if they actively decide to make a face mask part of their daily attire, and make rubbing alcohol as a regular moisturizer? No amount of consoling would do to people who choose (or love) to be afraid.

“You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.” Matthew 8:26

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