‘Thank you coronavirus’: Here’s why DOTr’s post on COVID-19 was frowned upon online

March 23, 2020 - 6:52 PM
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health covid-19
A soldier checks the body temperature of a health worker before entering a free shuttle service following the suspension of mass transportation to contain the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, March 20, 2020. (Reuters/Eloisa Lopez)

The Department of Transportation issued an apology on Monday after sharing a poem and video on the supposed silver-lining of the coronavirus pandemic.

The post drew flak on social media for supposedly being “insensitive.” It has since been deleted but several social media users managed to screenshot the post and shared it online.

The deleted post read:

“A perspective worth pondering on: Thank you coronavirus. Thank you for shaking us and showing us we’re dependent on something much bigger than we think.”

In its apology letter, the DOTr said that its communications and commuter affairs team intended the post to be an enlightening message.

“We apologize for the recent post we shared featuring the poem and video of Polish vocalist/writer Riya Sokol, which is meant to provide an enlightening and awakening narrative into this pandemic,” the team said.

The agency then argued that the audience was unable to grasp “the underlying message” of the poem and the video, thus perceiving the content insensitive.

“We have decided to delete the post altogether in both our Facebook and Twitter accounts as a prudent move to avoid confusion. Again, we are very sorry,” they said.

The two-minute video, which could still be found on Sokol’s YouTube channel, shares an appreciation of the consequences and realizations that the disease brought to the people.

The singer thanked coronavirus for stopping the public transport, making the people recognize the values of freedom and other abstract perspectives.

“This virus is part of us. It’s between us, in us. It connected us all. Either physically or energetically. Gratitude supports the immune system but also lets us see things from many perspectives. It’s up to us, which perspective we will choose,” part of the video’s caption read.

The clip was posted on March 17 and has since gained more than 157,800 views.

Why was it insensitive?

For the local online community, the now-deleted post was insensitive because the coronavirus infected thousands and took thousands of lives worldwide in a span of only three months.

The Filipinos online users who criticized the DOTr for sharing the post lamented the number of casualties caused by the COVID-19.

“Really? Thank you coronavirus? For doing what? Killing innocent people?” social media personality AC Soriano tweeted.

Human rights activist Carlos Conde also reacted with:

“Thank you coronavirus? What are these people smoking?”

For these criticisms, the keyword “Thank You Coronavirus” landed on the current top trending topics on local Twitter with 69,600 tweets.

The surge of confirmed cases in the country early this month prompted the Philippine government to impose a nationwide state of calamity and an enhanced community quarantine over Luzon. These measures included a suspension of mass transportation and other transport services, until April 12.

As of March 23, the current number of confirmed cases in the country increased to 462 while fatalities rose to 33. Of which, only 18 have recovered.