By Hannah L. Torregoza
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian urged the government to impose a total Metro Manila lockdown considering the number of positive cases of COVID-19 increasing on a daily basis.
Gatchalian made the call following reports of chaos and lack of proper COVID screening while the government starts putting Metro Manila under community quarantine.
Under the present circumstances, the senator said the community quarantine does not prevent infected people without symptoms from getting outside Metro Manila’s borders, thus, making it possible for asymptomatic transmission to happen.
“Sa kabila ng umiiral na community quarantine, nakita natin kanina ang mga manggagawa na pila-pila sa mga iba’t ibang terminal ng pampublikong sasakyan, (Despite the prevailing community quarantine procedures, we can see that workers are all lined up in different public transportation terminals),” Gatchalian said in an interview over SMNI.
“Gusto natin ang mga tao na mag-practice ng social distancing pero pagdating sa mga terminal ng bus, UV express, at maging sa MRT ay siksikan pa din ang mga tao (We want people to practice social distancing but upon people are still near each other within bus terminals, UV express or even in the MRT,” he pointed out.
The lawmaker also said the government should see to it that private companies and other private organizations should implement a work-from-home scheme.
Gatchalian pointed out that a community quarantine is an ineffective way to contain the virus because Filipinos, who need to physically be in their offices have no option, but to brave their way to crowded passenger terminals.
This, he said, defeats the purpose of the government’s call for social distancing.
In implementing a total lockdown for Metro Manila, the senator said people should be staying indoors, all areas of convergence strictly shut, such as parks, malls, churches, and other places of gatherings.
Public and private vehicles, he said, should also be strictly barred from going in and out of Metro Manila to contain the virus effectively.
If Metro Manila borders will not be completely sealed off, Gatchalian warned that the Philippines may be overwhelmed by the rising number of COVID-19 cases.
The Department of Health (DOH) reported that the number of COVID-19 cases in the country jumped to 140, including a 13-year-old patient, while the death toll rose to 12. The speed of the increase in the number of confirmed cases from March 8 to 15, with a daily growth of 277% on the average, while 86% of these confirmed cases are from the same period.
“This is the situation that we fear. Iran has nearly 14,000 confirmed cases with 724 deaths while the number of cases in Italy has already ballooned to 24,747 and 368 of them died,” he pointed out.
“If we don’t do any drastic measure to avoid people-to-people contact, we are heading that way,” he said.
Gatchalian reiterated that the situation calls for more drastic actions to prevent COVID-19 from spreading outside Metro Manila and anywhere in the country.
“Everyone’s cooperation is needed in the fight against this dreaded virus. If this means that the government must implement more stringent measures to protect the safety and welfare of everyone, then this is the bitter pill we need to swallow,” Gatchalian said.