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500 Days of ECQ, GCQ: How Long Has It Been, Really?

Another ECQ or lockdown is on the horizon.
by Pia Regalado
5 hours ago

Aspiring chef Stacey Lee worries that for her virtual internship, her supervisors won't be able to taste how good her pasta alfredo is. She's pinning her hopes of work abroad on that recipe, a dream that looks uncertain as the Philippines prepares to enter a new lockdown or ECQ.

That's how much 500 days under COVID restrictions changed how UST student Lee looks towards the future in life. It's a common story for Filipinos whose professional and personal lives have been appended by the pandemic.

"Masyado na po matagal 'yung lockdown kasi na-realize ko magpa-Pasko na naman pero ganito pa rin 'yung situation natin," Lee told reportr. She was in her sophomore year in culinary arts when the first ECQ was imposed in March 2020.

"May thought din na ga-graduate kaming incompetent kasi mahirap mag-adjust sa online learning, especially 'yung mga walang maayos na learning environment," Lee said.

Last July 27 marked 500 days of ECQ, MECQ, GCQ and MGCQ that put IATF, APOR and COVID in the national dictionary. It keeps getting longer without the promise of ending soon as the emergence of virus variants outpace vaccinations.

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If the ECQ in Metro Manila and other areas ends on August 20, millions of Filipinos would have been under 524 days of community quarantine.


How long is 500 days?

Those born from March 15 to August 20 would've celebrated their second birthday in quarantine.

Those who got pregnant when face shields were made mandatory in December 2020 are due to give birth towards the end of the 2021 ECQ, if it ends as scheduled.

Jerome Ascaño
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Contractual employees would've been on their third contract if they were renewed every six months nonstop since March 2020.

If Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) in the movie "500 Days of Summer" met Summer (Zooey Deschanel) on March 15, 2020, he would've gotten over her and met Autumn on July 27, 2021.

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Some 12 million people in Metro Manila endured 98 days of ECQ in 2020 and are set for at least 15 more days this August. That's the longest stretch any region has been under ECQ.

Missed your weekend barkada hangouts without physical distancing? More than 70 weekends have passed since Filipinos had maskless walwalan.

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If President Duterte were to repeat his longest State of the Nation Address (SONA) nonstop for 500 days, he will do it more than 4,337 times. (His SONA lasted two hours and 46 minutes.)

Marvel fans can binge-watch all of the 23 movies, from "Iron Man" (2008) to "Black Widow" (2021), more than 228 times non-stop during the entire quarantine period. You need 2.18 days to finish everything in one sitting.

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If your favorite South Korean male idol started his compulsary military service in March 2020 and served in the Army or Marine Corps, he would be a few months away from discharge. Able-bodied South Korean men are required to serve in the military for approximately 18 to 21 months.

By August 2021, bibliophiles would have finished reading 18 books. On average, readers finish 12 books a year.

Members of the hit Facebook home-inspo page "Home Buddies" since it was created in September 2020 have checked out "budol finds" on the page for 11 months now.

Those who have not cut their hair since the pandemic started would have grown an additional nine inches of hair by now. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, hair grows an average of 1/2 inch per month.

What is the toll of 500 days?

The mental health impact of the pandemic will be "long-term and far-reaching", the World Health Organization had said, as experts and leaders called for action on COVID-linked anxiety and stress. 

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"Everyone is affected in one way or another," the WHO said in a statement.

It said "anxieties around virus transmission, the psychological impact of lockdowns and self-isolation" had contributed to a mental health crisis, along with stresses linked to unemployment, financial worries, and social alienation. 

"The mental health impacts of the pandemic will be long-term and far-reaching," the statement added.

The Philippines recorded the highest number of suicide deaths in a single year in pandemic year 2020 since at least 2006, official data showed, underscoring the toll of the COVID-19 pandemic on millions of Filipinos under quarantine.

Deaths due to suicide jumped 25.7% to 3,529 in 2020 from 2,808 in 2019. It was also the biggest year-on-year jump based on available data. The Philippine Statistics Authority started tracking suicide and self-harm deaths in 2006.

Help is readily available. Government and private groups have set up hotlines to help people deal with lockdown blues.

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"Someone in your community, workplace, family or circle of friends, or even you may be feeling hopeless, isolated, and feeling they have no reason to live. We are not facing this alone. With compassion and understanding for others, we can recognize the signs and educate ourselves how to access help," said  WHO Representative in the Philippines, Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe.

If you are having thoughts of suicide, know that help is always here. You are not alone. Call the National Center For Mental Health 24/7 Crisis Hotline 1553, 0917 899 8727(USAP), and/or 7-989-8727 (USAP).

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