Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Wearing of face mask now mandatory in Zamboanga

ZAMBOANGA CITY – Police have strictly imposed Tuesday the enhanced community quarantine here and telling residents to wear face mask if they go out their homes to buy food following the recent death of a woman suspected of contracting the deadly coronavirus disease, or Covid-19.

Even journalists were told to wear face mask, even if they are in vehicle. “Sir, please wear your face mask even if you are in the car. It’s mandatory now,” one policeman manning a checkpoint near a radio station, told a journalist passing by.

The local government imposed the quarantine this month to stop the spread of the virus that has infected hundreds of people in the country and had already killed over 2 dozen, mostly in metropolitan areas in Luzon which is now in total lockdown.

The Covid-19, now a global pandemic, broke out in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December last year, and quickly spread to over 100 countries with China recording over 81,000 infections and more than 3,200 deaths.

Mayor Beng Climaco told Zamboanga’s nearly one million residents to stay at home as precaution against the virus now threatening public health, although  the city has no confirmed case of Covid-19.

But the death of a 57-year old woman from acute respiratory failure at a private hospital and the mounting number of “people under investigation”, or PUIs, and “people under monitoring”, of PUMs.

A PUI is a person that shows symptoms of cough, colds and fever with a travel or contact history to countries or person that is affected with Covid-19, and being admitted in the hospital for observation. While PUM is a person with travel and contact history to countries or person that is affected with Covid-19 but not displayed any symptoms and is advised to undergo a 14-day self-quarantine at home to be monitored by health workers.

And the increasing number of PUIs and PUMs added to the public fear and has thrown residents into panic buying, with alcohol and sanitizers, and canned goods topping their priority list.

 A woman buys two bottles of alcohol at the Shop-o-Rama Supermarket in Zamboanga City after fresh stocks of disinfectants arrive Tuesday, March 24, 2020. (Zamboanga Post)

But supermarkets have ran out of stocks of alcohol and disinfectants, and those who replenished their stocks limited the sale to only 2 bottles of alcohol, and sometimes one per customer. Face masks and other personal protective equipment are also out of stock forcing residents to buy homemade mask to cover their nose and mouth.

Climaco has repeatedly assured the public that Zamboanga has enough supplies of provision and basic necessities despite the indefinite quarantine period which restricts sea, land and air travels by civilians to other provinces. She said the lockdown will not affect the transport of goods and supplies to Zamboanga, adding, the enhanced community quarantine imposed on March 15 is an urgent preventive measure to ensure the safety of everybody from the coronavirus disease.

The local government has imposed a curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Shops and offices are also closed, except for pharmacies, supermarkets, grocery stores, markets, bakeries, medical clinics, delivery services, water stations, food and medical manufacturing and processing plants, money shops, commercial banks, utilities and telecommunication facilities and some restaurants which are strictly selling only food-to-go.

Classes and school activities in all levels remain suspended and mass gatherings are prohibited, including religious gatherings. Climaco said a work from home arrangement shall be implemented, except the police and military, health and emergency frontline services, border control, financial institutions, power and water, and telecom utilities and other critical services. 

“A strict home quarantine shall be observed in all households; movement shall be limited to accessing basic necessities; and there will be heightened presence of uniform personnel to enforce quarantine procedures. For this purpose, only two individuals per household will be allowed to leave their homes,” she said.

A government truck escorted by authorities spray disinfectant on a stretch of road in downtown Zamboanga on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 in an effort to combat the spread of the coronavirus disease. (Zamboanga Post)

Climaco has ordered large-scale disinfection efforts in combatting the spread of the virus and government trucks regularly spray disinfectant on pavements and streets. 

And also beginning Tuesday, the mayor said private vehicles are now limited to one driver and one passenger only. But exemption is provided to vehicles of private companies transporting employees, but strict social distancing must be observed at all times. (Zamboanga Post)

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