Rizal Memorial closed for decontamination; 48 LSIs positive in COVID-19 rapid tests

Anjo Bagaoisan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 30 2020 08:47 AM

After sheltering over 6,500 stranded passengers waiting for government-sponsored trips to the regions, the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila will be closed for a day for decontamination, the head of the 'Hatid Tulong" initiative said Thursday. 

Asec. Joseph Encabo told ABS-CBN News the entire complex, which includes the baseball and track stadiums, will be placed on lockdown for sanitation beginning 9 am Thursday. 

Other people working in and around the sports complex such as employees of the Philippine Sports Commission and personnel of the Manila Department of Public Services were also vacated. 

Encabo said there are no more locally stranded individuals at the stadiums after the last batch of 1,017 stranded passengers boarded a ship bound for the Zamboanga Peninsula early Thursday. 

Since Saturday, 6,583 people availed of travel assistance to the provinces as part of the second batch of the Hatid Tulong initiative. 

However, 48 were marked positive in rapid tests conducted as part of the processing of passengers before their trip, less than half coming from the last batch. 

They are waiting for the results of their swab tests at quarantine facilities in Manila. 

Meanwhile, a number of stranded persons whose municipalities in the provinces were not yet ready to receive them were transferred to temporary shelters in Bulacan. 

Originally slated to be finished over the weekend, the sending home of stranded passengers lasted for nearly a week due to the volume of people who arrived at the sports complex and rains delaying the processing work. 

After a public outcry on the conditions of the people packed at the stadium, the Department of Health said this was considered a mass gathering violating guidelines against the pandemic. 

Encabo said they would recommend doing "pocket send-offs" in future batches to prevent the cramming of people seen over the weekend.