Virus and the volcano: PH on alert for COVID outbreak among Taal evacuees

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 06 2021 03:11 PM

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The Department of Health is closely monitoring possible COVID-19 symptoms among thousands of families that fled to evacuation centers due to the rumbling Taal volcano. 

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said he went to Batangas province on Monday and noticed that evacuees were cramped in some evacuation centers. He said he requested their transfer to public schools, where they could practice physical distancing. 

"Talagang tutok na tutok po ang (we are focused on) monitoring for symptoms within the tents in the evacuation center," he said in a press briefing. 

Some Metro Manila cities donated 7,500 COVID-19 vaccine shots to prevent infections among the evacuees, Malacañang spokesman Harry Roque noted in the same briefing. 

At least 2,000 families fled to evacuation centers after Taal on Thursday spewed a 1-kilometer high plume of gas and steam. 

The volcano, which sits in a lake, remains under Alert Level 3 in a 5-level scale, meaning a "magmatic intrusion" at the main crater "could further drive succeeding eruptions," said the state seismology agency. 

Taal is one of the world's smallest active volcanoes. Despite standing at only 311 meters, it can be deadly and an eruption in 1911 killed more than 1,300 people.

In January last year, Taal shot a column of ash and steam as high as 15 kilometers into the sky, which forced more than 100,000 people to abandon their homes, widespread flight cancellations and heavy ash falls in Manila.

— With a report from Reuters