MANILA - The coronavirus pandemic has depleted the resources of some areas in the path of Typhoon Ambo, local officials said Thursday as they scrambled to ensure physical distancing in evacuation sites.
In Northern Samar, where the Philippines' first storm this year is expected to hit land later Thursday, some 400,000 people or about 60 percent of residents have to flee from landslide and flood-prone areas, said the province's chief disaster officer, Josh Echano.
The province has been on lockdown since March to arrest the spread of COVID-19, which "depleted" the resources of some towns, he told DZMM.
Some evacuees, he said, would have to stay in unused isolation facilities intended for COVID-19 patients.
COVID-19 quarantine facilities will also host Sorsogon residents who will be evacuated from coastal areas, said Engr. Raden Dimaano, provincial disaster office head.
In Albay, a "culture-based" evacuation will let 8 families who know each share one classroom, down from 10 families during previous storms, said the province's disaster chief Cedric Daep. Churches, he said, would also take in evacuees.
An inter-agency task force requires the public to stay at least one meter apart to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
Albay farmers earlier this week started harvesting rice and other crops in preparation for Ambo, Daep said.
The typhoon on Thursday will bring occasionally torrential rains in the Samar provinces, and moderate to heavy rains in Sorsogon, Albay, Catanduanes, Masbate and the rest of Eastern Visayas, said PAGASA weather specialist Ezra Bulquerin.
On Friday or Saturday, the storm will whip Metro Manila with rains and strong winds, he said.
Around 20 major storms in a year hit the Philippines, the closest major landmass facing the Pacific typhoon belt.
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