'Mass gathering': DOH says packed Rizal Memorial did not follow virus measures

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 28 2020 12:30 PM | Updated as of Jul 28 2020 12:43 PM

Stranded individuals cram inside Rizal Memorial Sports Complex. Mores Heramis, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Department of Health said Tuesday anti-coronavirus disease (COVID-19) measures were not enforced at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex where thousands of stranded residents last week gathered for the government's free transportation program.

Some 6,000 locally stranded individuals were seen crammed inside the stadium as authorities said it chose "the lesser of 2 evils" when they allowed them to seek shelter from heavy downpour.

DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire described the situation as a mass gathering, which is prohibited under government measures against COVID-19.

"Kung makikita po natin dyan that is mass gathering, hindi ho masyado na-enforce yung ating standards for health para maiwasan ang impeksyon. Pero ginagawan naman ho ng paraan ngayon," she told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.

(We can see there it's a mass gathering, our standards for health to avoid infections were not enforced. But adjustments are now being made.)

"Tama po dahil alam naman po natin na kailangan hindi magkaroon ng pakikipagsalamuha ang maramihang tao sa ngayon dahil ang impeksyon ay maaaring magtransmit nang mabilis sa mga ganitong pagkakataon," she added when asked if the situation was not ideal according to DOH guidelines.

(That's correct, since we know that many people should not have contact with each other because the virus can be transmitted quickly in this situation.)

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Some 2,000 people remain stranded at the sports complex, while government has brought 4,793 people to their home provinces though the Hatid Tulong program, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año earlier said.

Around 284 others were brought to a housing site in Bulacan as they waited for their respective provinces to lift their moratorium on the entry of returning residents, he added.

Eight to nine LSIs were positive for the coronavirus using rapid tests, Presidential Management Staff Assistant Secretary Joseph Encabo said Monday.

They were immediately isolated and underwent confirmatory tests while their close contacts were put into record and flagged to receiving local governments, he added.