The throng of people flocking to the dolomite beach of Manila Bay evoked both the feeling of normalcy and specter of fear.

New cases of COVID-19 have tapered in the past weeks, indicating that we are gaining headway in staving off the pandemic. Consequently, the national and local governments started easing restrictions to stimulate the sagging economy.

In Western Visayas, new cases plunged to more than 200 a day in October from thousands in September 2021. This led to the lowering of the alert level in most provinces and cities in the region.

Iloilo City, which used to record 100 to 200 cases daily on average last month, only posted double-digit spikes in the past days.

But the recent emergence of another variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in the United Kingdom and the consequent surge in cases, should warn us of what could happen if we lower our guard.

The city has been making leaps and bounds in the vaccination rollout, if government figures are to be believed, but carelessness and the emergence of new strains might force us to return to lockdowns and restrictions.

According to NBC News, more than 50,000 infections were recorded in the U.K. in a single day on Oct 21, “the highest daily count since mid-July and a higher number than reported in Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal combined.”

“The country also saw 115 deaths, with Tuesday marking a daily death toll of 223 people — the highest since March.”

China’s new Covid-19 infections will increase in the coming days and the areas affected by the epidemic may continue to expand, a health official was quoted as saying by Bloomberg.

The current outbreak in China is caused by the delta variant from overseas, Wu Liangyou, an official at the National Health Commission, said at a briefing in Beijing Sunday.

The easing of restrictions means more people going to our region, and more residents going out to malls and public places. With the Christmas holidays approaching, crowds will be a normal thing, which could lead to superspreader events.

A simple case of complacency will trigger another round of restrictions as we await medicines and vaccines that will somehow tame and quell COVID-19.

It will not hurt if we will be on our toes, but it would be more painful if we lose more loved ones and suffer another round of economic debacle all because of complacency.