Worry about getting infected with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) remains high in Filipinos, the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey revealed.
The survey, conducted from September 17 to 20 among 1,249 respondents found that 85 percent of adult Filipinos are worried (consisting of 63 percent worried a great deal and 22 percent somewhat worried), 9 percent are worried a little, and 6 percent are not worried that anyone in their immediate family might catch COVID-19.
Although the survey was conducted when most areas of the country were already under the Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ), SWS said that the results are similar to the survey conducted in July 2020.
The July 2020 survey found that 85 percent were worried (67 percent worried a great deal, 18 percent somewhat worried), 8 percent were worried a little, and 7 percent were not worried about catching the virus.
It added that compared to its past surveys, worry about catching COVID19 is greater than worries about catching previous viruses such as Ebola, Swine Flu, Bird Flu, and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
Highest in Luzon
The worry (percentage worried a great deal and percentage somewhat worried) about catching COVID-19 is now highest in Balance Luzon at 87 percent, followed by the Visayas at 84 percent, Metro Manila at 83 percent, and Mindanao at 80 percent.
Data were gathered through mobile phone interviews of adult Filipinos (18 years old and above), randomly drawn from a database of mobile phone numbers compiled from SWS national and subnational representative faceto-face surveys since 2017.
Metro’s biggest mega quarantine
As the worry about catching the virus occupies the minds of most Filipinos, the government continued to open quarantine facilities to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The Solaire-PAGCOR (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation) mega quarantine facility, dubbed as the biggest isolation center in Metro Manila to date, was officially launched at the Bagong Nayong Pilipino in Parañaque City on Tuesday.
National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 Chairman Delfin Lorenzana thanked the business sector for the turnover of the 525-bed mega quarantine facility, which was completed in partnership with the Enrique Razonled Razon Group through Prime Metro BMD Corporation and Bloomberry Cultural Foundation, Inc.
The facility was built in record time of five weeks and is now ready to accept mild to asymptomatic patients from Metro Manila and other nearby provinces such as Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon.
According to the builders, the isolation center was made as an open air facility to allow the proper dilution of virus, which is “a far better method” of quarantining and containing the virus as opposed to enclosed facilities. “It is [crucial] in preventing cross contamination and containing the virus within its compound,” said Architect Daniel Lichauco, of the independent firm Archion Architects.
“We hope to put up more isolation facilities not only in Metro Manila but in the regions, too. For some reasons, the virus has started spreading in regions as well,” Lorenzana said.
He said that the country has continuously seen a downward trend in the number of newly recorded cases, which is a “good sign” that the public has already “learned” how to live with the virus and the economy is ready to be opened little by little.
“[T]he curve of the virus is flattening. We hope to bring it down a little bit more. Last night (Monday) during our meeting in Malacanang, the target was to bring [the daily cases] down to three digits because we are now at four digits. Yesterday we had 3,073 [cases] so it’s hovering between 2,700 to above 3,000. That’s a good sign,” Lorenzana said.
“We believe that the Filipino people has finally learned to live with the virus, in what to do, and we are now doing it. We want to thank everybody for the cooperation in trying to curb this virus,” he added.
Aside from Lorenzana, the opening of the Solaire-PagcoR mega quarantine facility was witnessed by NTF deputy chief implementer and testing czar Vince Dizon, Public Works and Highways Undersecretary Emil Sadain, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, JV Emmanuel de Dios, chief executive officer of the Prime Metro BMD Corporation which is the Razon Group’s construction arm, and Archion Architects’ Lichauco.
Appeal for home isolation
While civil society groups support the decision of the government to isolate COVID-19 positive individuals to prevent the transmission of the virus, they appealed that patients with no comorbidities but have the capacity to home isolate be exempted from being transferred to a quarantine facility.
In a press briefing Tuesday, various civil society groups in the country issued a unity statement calling on the interagency task force (IATF) to let COVID-19 positive individuals with no comorbidities to be allowed isolation at home if they have sufficient capacity to do so in order to prevent “unintended consequences.”
“We fully understand the need to isolate COVID-19 positive individuals to prevent further transmission of the virus. However, we appeal to the IATF to include patients with the capacity to home isolate in the exceptions for required facility-based isolation, in order to prevent unintended consequences, which are not in line with our goal of reducing transmissions,” the health advocates from about 30 civil groups said.
On September 24, the IATF released Resolution No. 74 which contains a provision requiring facilitybased isolation for asymptomatic and mild COVID-19 patients except if the patient has comorbidities and has sufficient capacity to home isolate and if the local government unit has insufficient capacity in terms of available isolation facilities. (With reports from Martin Sadongdong and Betheena Unite)