(El Nuevo Día)

Now that the government has confirmed three positive cases of coronavirus in Puerto Rico, our society has to unite to stop the spread of the virus.

Soon, we will begin to have an estimate of the level of spread of this pandemic on our island. The situation calls for calm, caution and solidarity from all of us. It also requires that we ignore rumors and focus only on official sources.

Digital information platforms have shown how disruptive this pandemic is to the lives of citizens in other countries, as well as to their social and economic activities. They have also shown which responses have been effective, and creative ways people in other countries have found to help each other and keep their collective morale up.

So far, the reported trend in the world is that 80 percent of the cases of coronavirus have successfully recovered. Statistics indicate that 15 percent have complications and the incidence of death is 5 percent. Generally, those who died were people with other health complications.

These statistics help to put into context and raise awareness of the importance of protecting the most vulnerable people, particularly the elderly and those with chronic conditions. Knowledge empowers. We should all strengthen hygiene measures and take care of our own and other people's well-being.

The coronavirus will change the way we relate to each other, work, shop, entertain or go for a walk, but it must not change our human essence. It will require collaborating with the government provisions associated with the state of emergency. It will require discipline in hygiene, which has proved to be effective.

In their innocence, children can be silent transmission vehicles, so protecting them and keeping their play and study spaces sterilized is a priority. It will be necessary for children and young people to seek forms of entertainment that will allow them to enjoy their time during this difficult period while avoiding physical contact with others and places with the potential of spread.

Medical, nursing, radiology and laboratory personnel, as well as other health workers, must be equipped to carry out their mission with sensitivity and professionalism. We must all cooperate with health care personnel in their efforts to help patients recover.

Workplaces, where attendance is essential, must have the safety and health of all their employees as a top priority.

Although predictable, coronavirus cases confirmed on the island may increase stress in a population with high levels of anxiety following the natural events of the last three years. The flood of information and recommendations for isolation may also cause sadness, loneliness, and depression in many of our fellow citizens. Puerto Rico has very high rates of mental illness, many untreated, which may become more severe in this period which is new for everyone. Following recommendations to protect ourselves and others, it is also up to us to seek ways to accompany and contribute to the well-being of these brothers and sisters.

Given the necessary cancellation of classes, it is essential to consider that, due to the high levels of child poverty, many children only eat what they receive in school canteens. Our elderly, many of whom live alone, also need good nutrition and proper care.

Meanwhile, the government, the private sector, and non-profit organizations have to face up to the challenge of ensuring that the federal government sends the resources the island will need to deal with this social and economic crisis.

If anything defines Puerto Ricans it is their joy, their creativity and, most of all, their deep human values. With this capital, with caution and with reliable information, we will overcome the challenge that the coronavirus poses to the world.

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