Pandemic news update: face shields, growing desperation

Pandemic news update: Face shields like these are required for public transport in the Philippines.

Last Updated on June 7, 2023 by Ellen

There are noteworthy developments to share about the situation from our pandemic bunker and the country hosting us at the current time. This pandemic news update ranges from death, to dogs, to desperation, and also mandatory face shields pictured above.

Most of our readers are from American and Canada. And I know many of you are struggling in your own ways back ‘home’. I read about what’s happening there daily.

But you might not know some of what’s happening around us: me, Tedly, and mom Diane, so this gives an overview on current events.

Pandemic news update from our side of the world

COVID-19 death

COVID-19 killed a woman about 40 miles from our bunker, just outside Kalibo, in the town Numancia, in mainland Aklan. At least, that is what the government’s official website states.

I can find no other news. Was it community transmission? Was she a returning overseas foreign worker (OFW)? Did the woman (my age) have any other health problems?

Sometimes news is hard to come by in these parts. A lot of it depends on word of mouth, neighbors informing neighbors, and, to some degree, social media.

The Philippine government discourages ‘fake news’ spread on social media with jail and fine threats. The idea is that it’s better to not freak out folks … unnecessarily …

Mandatory face shields

Starting tomorrow (Friday), in addition to wearing face masks, we must wear face shields on “public transport” according to the Philippine Coast Guard. Yes, face shields. These are large plastic coverings over your entire face.

There are types with fake eyeglass frames, attached to the plastic, and styles with either plastic or elastic head bands.

I bought three, one for each of us, even though I’m the one most often on public transportation. Better safe than sorry. Word is: no face shield, no ride. And it’s rainy season. I’d hate for any of us to get stuck in a terrific downpour.

Still, I have a friend who plans to write, “This is Bullshit” on his shield.

And Tedly says we may as well just wear plastic bags over our heads. He’s actually serious. Since carrying face shields is cumbersome, and a plastic bag (with eye holes and a mouth hole cut out) can be squished easily into a day pack.

No plastic bag for me, thanks. I can hardly stand face masks as it is in this tropical heat, fogging up my glasses all the time. The shield is just an added layer of miserable discomfort.

Dogs and rabies

Rabies is a problem in much of Southeast Asia, including the Philippines, which is one of the region’s poorest countries. Mix in a pandemic, lost income, less food, and families are not likely to seek out vaccinations for pets.

Sadly, many dogs are strays. And they are reproducing. Fast. Those stray puppies are not getting rabies vaccines.

I cannot find any official accounts of rabies in our area. But I have no doubt it’s around here.

In other areas of the Philippines, local leaders have begun ‘elimination drives‘ to cut down the number of stray dogs.

Dogs in general – even beloved pets – appear thinner. Many seem to me to get thinner by the week as I walk by some of the local properties in mainland Malay.

I wonder what the local government here will do about the growing dog problem. We shall have to wait and see.

Pandemic news update - rabies is a problem in the Phlippines and it may be getting worse with more stray dogs like these.

We did not get vaccinated against rabies during our travel clinic shots in Malaysia two years ago. The vaccine is only half-effective. You would still need additional shots if you got sick. So, we opted against it.

COVID vaccine

Two bits of noteworthy news on the as-yet unapproved Russian COVID vaccine effort:

  1. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte offered to be a ‘guinea pig’ and take the vaccine in its third trial, as a way to encourage people not to be afraid of vaccinations. (But he’s too old, he’s 75.)
  2. Phase 3 trials of the “Sputnik V” vaccine will happen in the Philippines in October. Leaders plan to pick an area where there is known community transmission… and ask for volunteers.
    • Side note: The hope is the vaccine will be widely distributed in the Philippines by the second quarter of 2021.

Pandemic news update: No income

Many people face desperation without income or savings in this poor Southeast Asian country. Especially on Boracay. The regional tourists have not returned as hoped. No one has income. Shops and restaurants mostly remain closed.

Local governments can only help so much — if at all. Hunger is a real threat.

People are selling whatever they can to raise money. Homemade rice cakes, fish, clothing, motorcycles, lots, houses, you name – they will sell it.

Pandemic news update: people try to sell anything and everything including lots and homes, as advertised on this tricycle.

People are also willing to do whatever work they can find.

Some local people wonder if they can work here, at the HangOut. But our friend and landlady Yolly is already helping many people. Every adult staying at her resort is out of work. Every adult, teen, and child here still needs to eat.

Earth Vagabonds travel plans

Last week during our mini-getaway to Boracay Island, we went to immigration and extended our visas until early October. So we are here until at least that time. (Mom Diane extended her visa, too.)

Way back in February, Tedly and I had pre-paid on an apartment rental in Penang, Malaysia, for two months on a short-term rental for the summer. A few months ago, we pushed that rental back to October.

Our landladies there contacted us the other day. They asked about our plans.

As of this writing, Americans are not allowed into Malaysia – not even medical tourists. However, since I already have two oncologists in that country, I could apply for a special case, pointing out that we are not coming from America. A friend has connected me with the person in an office I would need to contact to start the process.

Options, decisions…

We are undecided on what to do. For now, we are in a ‘wait and see’ mode. But it is quite possible we will stay here in the Philippines longer. We are legally allowed (as of this writing) to stay up to three years.

To get to Malaysia, we would have to go through Manila or Cebu and risk canceled flights. None of us wants to be stuck in Manila right now. If that were to happen, we likely couldn’t get back into Aklan Province.

Additionally, once in Malaysia, we’d likely have to quarantine (again), and we would only have three months before we’d need a border run.

Who knows what will happen? Not me. Only God/Goddess/Universal Spirit/The Force.

So I believe it’s best to simply enjoy today. Right now.

Thanks for reading, “Pandemic news update: face shields, growing desperation.”

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1 thought on “Pandemic news update: face shields, growing desperation”

  1. The face shields sound like a good idea–though not the most comfortable. We got Tim a face shield attached to a baseball cap for taking back to school with him, but he refuses to wear it. He said he will “die of embarrassment.” He actually wants to stay home if he is forced to wear it at school–though he’s okay with a face mask… Sorry to hear about your travel predicament, but it seems like you’re making the most of it. Your neighbors there are lucky to have you all! God bless!

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