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It's officially been a year since the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared a pandemic. Now, we're looking back—and forward—at how the pandemic changed and continues to change, our lives

Happy COVID-anniversary. It's been 365+ days since the World Health Organisation (WHO) first announced the pandemic on the 11th of March 2020. Back then, everyone was clueless about what it entailed, and pandemic fatigue was the furthest thing from everyone's minds. The streets were empty and malls were devoid of everyone except those on grocery runs. Since then, however, stringent measures have been lifted. It's ironic that everyone seemed so afraid between those three months when cases were at mere hundreds per day. Now, people seem relieved when the tally comes at less than 3,000. 

What can we say? Pandemic fatigue is real.

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The Philippines One Year On

Despite the country recording possibly deadlier, more contagious variants of COVID-19, many people have seemed to let their guard down. Dine-in operations have resumed, and people seem to be excited to head back. A majority of mayors had wanted to reopen cinemas earlier last month (though the plan has since been deferred). All over the world, people have just grown tired of living in a constant state of alarm. And it's not their fault, not exactly. Humans aren't built to live in quarantine or isolation. For many, it's taken a toll on their mental health, and while it's easy to shame people for that, it's fair to say that there is validity to the fact that people are having a hard time coping, especially after a full year. 

But have no doubt: cases are surging. While the government seems to shift the blame on non-compliance of protocol, some believe it's also due to the new variants coming in from out of the country. New protocol has been put in place, such as the no PDA (public displays of affection) rule, and upcoming curfews are set to be imposed starting 15 March 2021 (exactly one year since the first lockdown).

While the vaccine roll-out is underway, it's still relatively slow going and there is no constant, steady supply of doses readily available. The end of the pandemic is coming—in some countries, they've already seen the light (and the view) at the end of the tunnel. But for now, patience is still key, especially as uncertainty lingers about case surges and new variants.  

New Variants, New Measures?

Do the new variants mean new measures then? Not necessarily. The most important preventative measures are still the same as they were last year: mask up, stay at least 6 feet apart, wash your hands constantly, and avoid crowded, indoor areas. Variants could, however, mean limiting time spent doing errands—something most of us have grown accustomed to doing. Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has even recommended wearing two masks as a way to avoid contagion. 

Ultimately, however, what the new variants mean for us is that while the pandemic may soon be over, now is not the time to be complacent. Vaccines appear to be effective against certain strains, and that's the reason for optimism—but definitely not slackness.

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