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The Philippines Combating COVID-19 Part 1

By Nimfa Estrellado
Straight Talk
March 14, 2020

Social distancing is the perfect method for combating Coronavirus Disease 2019 COVID-19. When the COVID-19 spreads to more and more populations, public health authorities place responsibility for helping stop the pandemic on individuals. The way to do this is to isolate ourselves in a crowd.

Did you think that in this span of Metro Manila "Community Quarantine", Manila will look like the streets of Italy? Look at Cubao right now, it's a social distancing disaster. Social distancing is impossible in Metro Manila. Why? Social distancing is a peculiar notion in the "world's most crowded city" where people live daily paycheck to daily paycheck. People need to work for their families. The government's social distancing policy and right to "work from home" is a luxury for those who can afford it, mainly those in the upper and middle classes. Much of Metro Manila's 12 million Filipinos couldn't afford to miss a day of unpaid labor.

On 14 March 2020, after President Rodrigo Duterte's order to put the National Capital Region (NCR) under community quarantine to avoid the spread of COVID-19, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) issued its guidance on Community quarantine and social distancing steps.

Often, social distancing involves not contacting other people and this requires shaking hands. The most likely way a person gets the COVID-19 is physical contact, and the best way to spread it. Know, keep the gap of 6 feet and don't touch.

Social distancing will never avoid 100 percent of transmissions, but individuals may play a critical role in slowing COVID-19 spread by observing these basic guidelines.

However, on 16 March 2020, Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo says President Duterte just announced an enhanced community quarantine in the entire Luzon after problems with the “community quarantine” protocol in Metro Manila cropped up.

During the first day of the workweek after a metro-wide quarantine was placed to avoid the spread of COVID-19 hundreds of commuters in Metro Manila were seen riding crowded buses and jeepneys.

Commuters waiting for a ride on Commonwealth Avenue's southbound lane have refused to follow the social distancing policies put on them. The DOTr said in its social distance guidelines released 15 March 2020, that public utility vehicles must have fewer passengers, and that commuters must be at least 1 seat apart.

As long as employees are expected to report to their respective workplaces, social distancing can never be practiced.

When the Metro Manila mass exodus occurred over the weekend, we failed at quarantine. When the public transit crisis was not addressed, and when checkpoints caused even more congestion in the streets, we failed at social distancing. In Metro Manila, the government is now proposing a complete ban on public transport.

What I would like to see is specific proposals for medical and healthcare supports or grants, rather than saying that the social distancing intervention or group quarantine is simply a lockdown.

A ban would be in place on all COVID-19 affected countries travelers and a full 14-day quarantine for those who were there and had contact with them. This is not good enough because we STILL have several direct flights that arrive on airlines.

COVID-19 UPDATE No. 11 as of (March 16, 2020) 12 of the 140 patients who tested positive for COVID-19 died in the Philippines on Sunday, according to DOH. As of March 16, only 2 have recovered.

Health Sec. Francisco Duque said these are tough times for the Philippines. Our countrymen are scared and many are already sick or in danger of falling ill as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds.

You know who is guilty of letting COVID-19 spread in the Philippines for more than 2 months ago. This pandemic could have been contained if only the government did the right thing.


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