MANILA— The Department of Health on Friday called for safety monitoring in evacuation centers, warning that the spread of the novel coronavirus is "a very strong possibility," with thousands displaced after typhoon Ulysses swamped thousands of homes in Metro Manila and nearby areas.
Evacuation centers should have safety officers who will watch out for symptoms of COVID-19 among evacuees, said Health Secretary Francisco Duque, in the wake of the disaster that struck as the nation still grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ideally, there should be only one family per tent or room. Evacuees should also wear anti-virus masks, keep a 3-meter distance from other people, and frequently wash their hands, he said.
Individuals who are at high risk of developing severe COVID-19, including the elderly, pregnant women and those with underlying health problems, should be in separate quarters, Duque said.
"It (COVID-19 spread) is a possibility. It’s a very strong possibility," he told reporters.
"That is why kinakailangang magmatyag ang atin pong mga safety officers na ipinapatalaga ng DOH sa mga local government units, iyong pagsunod sa minimum health standards sa mga evacuation centers," he added.
(That is why our safety officers that the DOH deployed to local government units need to watch out, minimum health standards should be followed in evacuation centers.)
The health department has distributed P26.8 million worth of hygiene kits, medicine, face masks, water containers in Metro Manila and Calabarzon, said its chief.
The agency has confirmed 402,820 coronavirus infections, with 7,721 deaths, as of Thursday. The Philippines has the second highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Southeast Asia, next to Indonesia.