By Martin Sadongdong
With the extension of the enhanced community quarantine until April 30, the public is advised to expect stricter enforcement of the measure to further prevent the spread of the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19), especially in urban poor areas.
Presidential Peace Adviser and National Task Force (NTF) COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. said the government is trying to avoid the potential mass infection of those in the poor communities as they have little to no access to healthcare.
“Lalo natin i-e-enhance pa ‘yung quarantine lalo sa urban poor. Nakita natin ang implementation doon congested ‘yung kanilang kinalalagyan (We will further enhance the quarantine, especially in urban poor [areas]. We have seen the implementation there, they are congested),” he said.
Despite the order of the government to practice social and physical distancing, informal settlers in poor communities find it difficult to practice as some of them are living in small houses, others in makeshift ones.
Galvez said it would be “frightening” if the virus penetrates the poor communities.
“Nakikita natin sa urban poor, by the hundred thousand ang mako-contaminate. Alam natin very vulnerable sila at wala silang capacity to ano ‘yung healthcare nila (We can see that among the urban poor, up to hundreds of thousands can be contaminated. We know that they are very vulnerable and they have no capacity to [access] healthcare),” he said.
“Kaya nga nagkaroon ng idea para magkaroon ng mass quarantine areas. Ang target natin ay ang urban poor para kapag na-declare na PUIs [persons under monitoring] doon ilalagay at hindi na hahalubilo sa pamilya (That’s why we came up with an idea to put up mass quarantine areas. Our target audience is the urban poor so if they are declared as PUIs, we can put them there and they will no longer interact with their families),” he added.
Galvez also visited the Philippine Arena in Bulacan on Tuesday where development is in the works to turn the facility into a mega quarantine center.
Three tents, which can collectively accommodate 300 persons under investigation and monitoring (PUIs and PUMs), are being built in the said facility.
Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) chief Vince Dizon said, however, it can be expanded to cater to 2,000 patients.
Galvez said the facility can serve patients from Bulacan as well as those coming from northern Metro Manila, including Quezon City, Caloocan City, Malabon City, Navotas City, and Valenzuela City.
It is expected to be operational starting next week, Galvez said.
Earlier, the convertion of the Ninoy Aquino stadium at the Rizal Memorial Complex into a quarantine center had already been finished. It can accommodate 120 patients.
Aside from this, other facilities being turned into quarantine centers include the Philippine International Convention Center and World Trade Center among others, which can house 294 and 502 patients, respectively.