The Year in Quarantine | The Developments in the Coronavirus Pandemic

Published on: 24/03/2021

A year after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus pandemic, what are the important developments in the world and in our country so far?

It has been a year since we have learned of the coronavirus pandemic.  On 11 March 2020, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus explained that more than being a public health crisis, we are experiencing a crisis that will touch every sector of society. Therefore, he highlighted the importance of enjoining every individual in the fight against the COVID-19 virus.

In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte declared the first pandemic lockdown in the country on the 15th of March last year. 

Since then, much has already happened, and all these events affected the lives of everyone worldwide. Although we have not yet officially seen the end of this pandemic, recent developments have suggested what Dr. Adhanom Ghebreyesus have known all along — that after all, “ this virus can be suppressed and controlled.”

The Timeline of Events

Since the pandemic announcement by the WHO, here are some significant local and global events in the 12 months that followed:

YEAR 2020 

17 March - President Duterte signed Proclamation No. 929, which declared a state of calamity in the entire country for a period of six months, allowing local government units to have access to quick response funds during emergency situations.

3 April - The wearing of masks in public areas was made mandatory by the Philippine government. 

4 April - Over one million cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed worldwide, as reported by WHO. This figure was a more than tenfold increase in less than a month.

12 April - The city of Valenzuela began administering the first local and targeted virus mass testing in Metro Manila. 

28 June - Data from WHO reported that the Philippines has the fastest increase in COVID-19 cases in the Western Pacific region.

8 July - The country breached the 50,000-mark of COVID-19 cases recorded.

24 July - The Philippines joined the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Acces Facility (COVAX Facility) a global mechanism designed for fair, rapid, and equitable access to coronavirus vaccines worldwide.

18 September - President Duterte, through Proclamation No. 1021, extended the state of calamity throughout the country for a period of one year, effective until 12 September 2021.

2 October - The Johns Hopkins University’s virus tracker counted the Philippines among the 20 countries with the most COVID-19 cases worldwide. During this time, the country’s total cases were at 314,079, and the Philippines now held the record of having the longest lockdown in the world.

6 November - WHO issued a Disease Outbreak News report regarding a variant strain in Denmark that was associated with farmed minks.

14 December - United Kingdom authorities reported to WHO a new SARS-CoV-2 variant.

YEAR 2021 

5 January - WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) reviewed the vaccine data for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. This vaccine received the first emergency use validation from WHO for its efficacy against COVID-19.

6 January - Hong Kong officials reported that they have detected the presence of the new coronavirus variant in a passenger who returned to their country from the Philippines.

13 January - The UK variant (now believed to be 70% more contagious) has been detected in the Philippines.

28 January - The country’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA)  granted emergency use authorization to the British drugmaker AstraZeneca’s vaccine. 

8 March - The Philippines launched its inoculation program after receiving 600,000 doses of CoronaVac, the vaccine produced by Sinovac BioTech.

13 March - The Philippine’s Department of Health (DOH) reported the country's first case of the highly transmissible Brazil variant of COVID-19 called P1.

22 March - The DOH reported the Philippines' highest single-day tally of COVID-19 cases at 8,019, bringing the total active cases to 80,970.

A Way Out of the Pandemic

The past 12 months have been challenging for everyone, and with the emergence of new COVID-19 variants, we must not let our guards down. We must always keep ourselves informed regarding the developments in this pandemic.

Now that vaccines are already available and more are on their way to the country, it will only be a matter of time before we can look forward to the world opening up again. 

Nonetheless, as it will still take some time to vaccinate everyone against the coronavirus, Dr. Adhanom Ghebreyesus reminds us that for now, we must keep adhering to safety measures — this means continued physical distancing, wearing of face masks, practicing hand and respiratory hygiene, and avoiding crowded indoor spaces.