With office workers now gradually reporting to work, I have issued an urgent appeal to all Manilans to do away with the habit of eating together and hopefully, those who are not from Manila will also heed this. There is a very good reason why I made this call, mind you. I was told by Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna, who has supervisory powers over the city’s hospitals, being a doctor herself, that most of the hospital personnel who get infected with the coronavirus are not the doctors and medical frontliners who handle COVID patients day in, day out. Instead, they are administrative staff members who actually have no direct contact or interaction with COVID patients whatsoever.
Similar to ordinary office settings, workers have a tendency to spend way too much time on having lunch together, with chatting eating up more time than the lunch itself. While indeed, eating together is a good Filipino tradition that promotes camaraderie, there is an urgent need for us to adjust to the call of the times. We have to learn to eat alone when in the workplace. This will keep us a lot safer than eating with friends and exposing ourselves to the danger of getting infected with the coronavirus.
How is this so? Of course when eating altogether, we share a single table. We naturally remove our face masks, the best and foremost defense there is against infection. While our mouths, noses and eyes – the main entry points of the virus – are wide open, we chat away like there’s no tomorrow, while seated beside and in front of one another.
Alongside this, I have also been appealing to youngsters to stop exposing themselves to infection and then bringing home the deadly virus to their family’s elder members. Since these youngsters belong to the age group that are not considered as “high risk” and are therefore the only ones allowed to go out under the rules governing the community quarantine, they also have the tendency to put their guard down. They would go malling, loiter around, play basketball, and do other activities that expose them to the virus. Then they go home without any regard if they could infect their elders. It is also for these reasons that we in the city government of Manila have taken our efforts to battle COVID-19 a notch higher. Last week, Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna and I were able to successfully bring the free serology testing right at the very doorsteps of our fellow Manilans, via two mobile clinics that make the rounds of barangays with the highest incidences of COVID-19.
All that residents have to do is step out of their homes and have themselves tested for whatever reason they may have in mind. It could be because they think they got exposed to a carrier, they are suffering from any of the symptoms, they need it to get back to work, or simply
want peace of mind, once and for all.
This complements the drive-thru COVID testing centers and walk-in testing centers that Vice Mayor Honey and I opened last week. This week, we inaugurated our third walk-in testing center at the Justice Abad Santos General Hospital or JASGEN which uses an
Architect i2000 SR machine, an upgraded version of the i1000 machines that are already being used in the two drive-thru and two walk-in centers in the city.
All these machines use serology and have 100 percent sensitivity and 99.6 percent specificity. The testing is accurate, efficient, reliable, and most of all it is being offered to Manilans and non-Manilans free of charge. It is completely different from rapid test kits.
Another complementary move we have taken is closing in the meantime 47 of our health centers in the city, upon the recommendation of Manila Health Department chief Dr. Arnold ‘Poks’ Pangan.
The personnel of these health centers are now being utilized to undertake the ardous task of tracing those who are infected in the community where their health centers operate.
These tracers are thoroughly compiling data, investigating both verified and unverified reports and even rumors, and then subject all information to necessary validation.
We in the city government are doing everything humanly possible to stem the spread of the coronavirus but without the cooperation of the residents themselves, all these will just be put to naught. This is why I don’t get tired of appealing to Manilans and even the public in
general, to do their share in the fight against COVID-19.
Gaya ng paulit-ulit kong sinasabi, kailangan ko ang tulong ninyong lahat. Walang mag mamalasakit sa Maynila kundi tayo ding mga Batang Maynila. Manila, God first!
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