To avoid COVID-19 superspreader events, gov't adviser tells community pantry organizers: Reach Filipinos in their homes

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 26) — Organizers of community pantries may adapt the local government's house-to-house visits to provide aid for Filipinos affected by the pandemic, COVID-19 task force adviser Dr. Ted Herbosa suggested as he fears the popular initiative may turn into superspreader events.

In a virtual briefing on Monday, Dr. Herbosa, who drew flak online over his "death by community pantry" statement, lauded the people behind the donation-driven activities. However, he said community organizers should explore other ways to distribute aid to poor households to avoid mass gatherings.

"Ang pagdagsa ng daang tao ay magca-cause ng superspreader events. Maghahawaan po sila," he said.

[Translation: The influx of hundreds of people will cause superspreader events. There would be further infection.]

Just like the call of other government officials, Dr. Herbosa said community organizers must always coordinate with local government units to ensure health protocols are put in place.

He added that organizers can embrace the approach of LGUs in distributing assistance to their constituents.

"Ang LGUs ay nagbigay ng ayuda, dinala sa bahay-bahay… Pwede nating gawing ganun," he said. "Pwede na magpaikot ng isang sasakyan or kariton... Iikot natin ito sa buong bayan. 'Wag natin papuntahin ang maraming tao sa isang lugar dahil hindi tayo mawawala dito sa pandemya."

[Translation: The LGUs opted to distribute aid through house-to-house visits. We can do that. We can also use a car or a cart... Let's drive it around town. Let’s not ask people to gather in one place because we won't be free from this pandemic.]

Dr. Herbosa filed his resignation as executive vice president of the University of the Philippines System after facing the ire of netizens over his "death by community pantry" tweet, in response to the death of an elderly man while waiting in line at a crowded community pantry organized by actress Angel Locsin in Quezon City.

Locsin and the Quezon City government vowed to extend help to the family.