And now, enhanced
THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - March 18, 2020 - 12:00am

Two days after President Duterte declared a community quarantine throughout Metro Manila which prohibited the entry and exit by car, airplane, or ship for one month, the entire island of Luzon was declared under an enhanced community quarantine. This means "strict home quarantine, suspension of public transportation lines, ration of food and other health care needs and stricter enforcement by uniformed authorities". Reminds me of martial law but Duterte insists this is different.

If there is no public transportation available, how will those who need to get to work such as healthcare personnel do so? Doctors, nurses, med techs, aides, and health center workers like in dialysis centers. Many patients undergo dialysis in centers outside of hospitals. They have their nursing and technician staff. Some patients also need medication via intravenous infusion. Not all nurses or technicians have cars to get to work.

There should still be a clear policy regarding healthcare workers. They are considered front liners in the fight against COVID-19. They put themselves at risk during these very difficult times. And now, it has become even harder for them. The announcement that public utility drivers who will defy the suspension will be arrested and their vehicles impounded does not help. It seems this wasn't thoroughly thought out. The government seems to assume everyone has easy access to supermarkets and drugstores, and that healthcare workers all have cars.

Government officials have clarified that groceries, convenience stores, drugstores, those in the food industry particularly manufacturing and delivery services, hospitals and allied healthcare centers, even water-filling stations, banks, and money transfer services and utilities such as power, water, and telecommunications will all be allowed to operate. But again, how will the employees of the aforementioned get to work? Secretary Nograles simply said to walk. How does one walk from Fairview in Quezon City to the Philippine General Hospital, just to give an example? The order of PNP chief General Archie Gamboa to arrest public utility drivers and impound their vehicles if they still ply their routes is just disconcerting.

There are currently 142 positive cases of COVID-19 where 12 have already died. As long as the number of positive cases has not stopped, I don't think Duterte would lift the quarantine. We do not need to discuss the impact on the country's economy as well as the rest of the world. According to Duterte, eateries can be open as long as there is social distancing. Food delivery may be the way to go. Anyway, nobody dies of hunger in a month as per the administration's mouthpiece. Tell that to the poor.

korina_abs@yahoo.com

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