02A0E: Pandemic Technology Constraints

Quarantine Constraints

Metro Manila Community Quarantine - Day 512

This morning I had to leave the Sietch in order to help my mom with some medical resupply efforts. I had already mapped out a month's worth of her stuff the weekend before in order to avoid ECQ complications, but today's run was unavoidable, but I was glad to help. And it gave me a chance to explore BGC back under lockdown.

Luckily, all previously issued quarantine passes are still considered valid in the City of Taguig, so Tobie and I didn't need to scramble for alternate documents in case we get questioned. Not that I expect to get stopped while walking around BGC - our police presence has never been all that great, but one can never be too careful during times like this. Hence we keep our quarantine pass attached to an ID lanyard so that we can wear it in a manner that clearly displays it to any authority figures nearby.

The streets were pretty empty save for a few cars going here and there. I didn't even experience much of a queue at Mercury Drug, which is a bit of a surprise versus the previous week. And of course, most stores are closed apart from the most stalwart of convenience stores, groceries, and restaurants. 

We've been in quarantine for over a year now and it still surprises me how inconsistent our contract tracing efforts are. The Mercury Drug branch I visit still uses a Google Form as their primary contact tracing effort, but I still see a lot of people filling out manual contract tracing forms when they get in. On the one hand, I wish everyone just utilized one app whether it's StaySafe.ph or whatever - not implementing it means you don't get the silly little blue check seal that indicates you're following the recommended health and safety standards. On the other hand, there's still a very real challenge for people to rely on apps for these things since not everyone has regular access to mobile data on their phones or even smartphones that can handle apps at all. 

And it's not just our contract tracing that is very technology-dependent. Even our quarantine efforts across the different LGUs largely rely on one online system or another to determine how to prioritize people willing to be vaccinated and to coordinate scheduling. Taguig is supposedly a schedule-only sort of vaccination LGU while others like Manila keep risking these open calls for walk-ins that often result in long lines and a breakdown in social distancing efforts. 

I just filled out this CORESIA survey on vaccine certificates and their impact on travel, and again when given the choice I stated I support electronic versions of these sorts of things should they ever get implemented, but I also stated I recognize there still may be significant inequality for both access to vaccines and ease of use for electronic solutions. This is a very real problem and it's hard to balance technological convenience versus accessibility and fairness regardless of economic status. 

But ultimately, less than 10% of the country's population is fully vaccinated, so this is very much a cart before the horse situation. And figuring out how to get more of the country vaccinated efficiently without letting technology becoming a roadblock for many is a significant hurdle. Don't even get me started on the potential complication posed by next year's elections and how there will be inevitable efforts to politicize our pandemic response in order to curry more voter support. 

Things are still so fucked up.