02B24: Singapore Pandemic Lessons

Tuesday Lizard

 Metro Manila Community Quarantine - Day 780

Our 3-week Singapore trip is coming to an end and we managed to do a lot of things but we still have many things left undone. As is the nature of things, it always feels like we never quite have enough time no matter what we do. 

Singapore's policy directives related to how they handle the pandemic are rather different from what we've been doing back in the Philippines and my time here has done a lot to help me shake off a lot of the fear-mongering that our government seems to drive. Yes, COVID-19 is still out there and remains a cause of concern, but we're also in a much better place to handle it given vaccinations and other measures. More than looking at case numbers, Singapore looks at the severity of cases and hospital capacity as the key metrics for determining if they should be concerned. And this has led to more liberal policies such as no longer requiring masks outdoors and finally lifting the contact tracing requirement for most locations just recently. 

We're flying back to the Philippines tomorrow, which means going back to more regular mask use both indoors and outdoors and other quirks. But I'll admit that I feel more relaxed about things to some degree - I'm trusting that the vaccines will continue to protect us and at the very least the vaccination rates in Metro Manila should be sufficient to offer a great degree of security. We need to be responsible when it comes to higher-risk activities such as anything indoors or when we gather in groups, but we also need to get out of the rut of living in near-constant fear of the virus - something that has dominated the national conversation for over two years. And this is something that didn't just happen on its own - it's a way of thinking that I feel our government policies have totally reinforced and inculcated in the population. 

Durtete has committed to maintaining his mask mandate until the end of his term, so there's nothing else we can really do about that. But we can hope that the next administration will make more science/evidence-backed decisions instead of focusing on a more punitive approach to disease management. You do not use military/police approaches when facing a public health crisis after all!

We've already been going out to O Bar, so I guess this mini "revelation" of sorts won't necessarily lead to drastic changes in our new normal lifestyle. But I think the changes, at least for me, will be more internal. I'll try to get out of the Sietch more. Maybe I'll make the most of jogging around BGC, even if it'll be nothing like all the trail walking I've been doing in Singapore over the past few weeks. And we definitely need to have more friends over for game nights, even if still in limited groups. 

I don't want to spend the rest of 2022 (and the years beyond) just being afraid and cautious. I still want to live my life (albeit, as safely as possible) and I want to encourage close friends to go back to living as well. The pandemic isn't over, but maybe we're fast approaching that endemic state that truly normalizes things. I think COVID-19 becoming endemic is our best-case scenario at this point. We're never going to fully eradicate it, but we can certainly make it manageable. 

We're flying home tomorrow. We'll be at O Bar on Friday night. And then we're watching Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness in an actual IMAX theater on Saturday. There's a lot to look forward to.