Learning to live with COVID-19: How city of Manila is battling the pandemic

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 10 2020 11:49 AM

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MANILA - The city of Manila will continue to strengthen its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, its mayor said Monday after the local government set aside P200 million to purchase potential vaccines. 

Mayor Isko Moreno said he has spoken with pharmaceutical firms that might produce the vaccine by December 2020 or March 2021 at the latest.

"We have to learn to live with COVID-19 and at the same time go back to work safely because we need to move on with our economy. Without this, we as government cannot protect our people," he told ANC.

"We’ll continue to prepare whether there is demand or not so that in case magkaroon ng aberya or blowing out of proportions, the city of Manila is ready."

The city has also been conducting house-to-house symptom checks in areas where there is a clustering of the virus even before the national government placed Metro Manila under a modified lockdown, Moreno said.

"We’ve been doing that for 5 months. Manila’s (population is) about 2.4 million and 70,000 per square meter. We're the most dense city in Asia. Despite this setback…we managed to control it (virus cases) at 5,000," he said.

Manila has also been "very aggressive" in tracing, treating and isolation, having built 13 quarantine facilities with 600 bed capacity, Moreno said.

Isolation facilities are divided into those for pregnant women, dialysis patients, people waiting for test results and confirmed patients, Moreno added.

Justice Jose Abad Santos Hospital, meantime, has discontinued accepting pregnant patients as it has reached 230 percent of its load capacity, according to the mayor.

As of posting, the city has some 1,300 active cases and has utilized serology testing for a heat map that will identify areas where positive people are located, Moreno said.

Manila has a 2.7 percent mortality rate and an 11 percent positivity rate with the virus estimated to be reproducing every 7 days, he added.

The city has also so far produced some 510,000 face masks, halfway through its minimum goal of 1 million, according to the mayor.

"If we’re going to align ourselves with data, sagarin ko na na 50 percent na mahirap, sila kaagad ang mabigyan. Kung makaluluwag pa kami we will not stop," he said.

(If we’re going to align ourselves with data, I will prioritize giving face masks to 50 percent of the population who are poor. If we have the funds, we will not stop.)

"Makakapagbigay na tayo ng trabaho sa community, makakapagproteksyon pa tayo sa mga mahihirap nating kababayan na di kayang maka-afford ng face mask."

(We gave jobs to the community and protection to the poor who can't afford face masks.)

The Philippines as of Sunday reported 129,913 cases of COVID-19, with 67,673 recoveries and 2,270 deaths.