Pandemic poses ‘challenge’ in evacuating residents amid Dante


Posted at Jun 03 2021 08:10 AM | Updated as of Jun 03 2021 08:16 AM

Pandemic poses ‘challenge’ in evacuating residents amid Dante 1
Residents use a gymnasium as an evacuation center in Remedios T. Romualdez, Agusan del Norte on Tuesday to escape heavy floods and rains brought by Tropical Storm Dante. ABS-CBN News

MANILA—The COVID-19 pandemic made more difficult the evacuation of residents in Southern Leyte and the Caraga region from the onslaught of tropical storm Dante, officials said Thursday.

The storm had brought heavy rains that inundated 5 provinces in Caraga, with Agusan del Norte the worst hit, said Office of Civil Defense-Caraga regional director Liza Mazo.

The situation in the region has since gone "back to normal" and evacuees have returned to their homes on Wednesday, she added.

"'Yun ang challenge natin every time nang magumpisa ang pandemic. Paglikas is always a problem kasi maraming hesitant, ayaw umalis kasi takot din. Ineensure lang ng respondents natin ang wearing of face masks," she told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.

(That's the challenge every time since the pandemic began. Evacuation is always a problem because many are hesitant, many do not want to leave because they're scared. Our respondents just make sure wearing of face masks is observed.)

"Limited ang pwedeng ilikas in 1 vehicle. Ensure lang may mask at social distancing pa rin sa evacuation centers."

(The number of evacuees is limited per vehicle. We just ensure masks are worn and social distancing is observed in evacuation centers.)

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Authorities faced the same challenge in Southern Leyte, where virus cases have "tripled", even quadrupled, in a month, said Governor Damian Mercado.

The province as of Wednesday has 147 active COVID-19 cases out of 1,517 total infections, according to the Department of Health.

Residents in flood or landslide-prone areas have been repeatedly advised to relocate, Mercado said. Some 81 individuals or 26 families were preemptively evacuated as of Wednesday, the national disaster council said.

"Kapag malakas na typhoon at malakas ang ulan, we advised them huwag na lang (tumira) dyan," he said. "Meron kaming other location, magpunta doon tapos magbalik pa rin sa pwesto nila, ganu'n ang nangyayari."

(If there's a typhoon and rains are strong, we tell them not to stay where they live. We relocate them and they do come with us, but they still go back.) 

The mayor said he has since required returning residents to present a negative swab test result and authorization from their barangay chairperson and mayor.

"Maraming umuwi galing sa high-risk (areas katulad ng) Manila kaya ngayon alarming ang pag-increase ng positive namin," Mercado said.

(Many went home from high-risk areas, such as Manila, so the increase in positive cases has been alarming.)

The province has also appealed to the DOH to allocate more vaccines, he added.

"Kulang kami ng vaccine. Ang allocation namin 2,000 per week, masyadong konti lang 'pag 2,000 per week," Mercado said.

(Our vaccine allocation is not enough, 2,000 per week is not enough.)

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