Evacuation centers should have safety officers — DOH

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 31) — As the country faces two daunting challenges — the coronavirus crisis and Typhoon Rolly — a health official underscored the importance of deploying safety officers in evacuation centers to monitor the health conditions of evacuees, as well as ensure compliance with infection control measures.

“Magkaroon po tayo ng safety officers na palagiang hihikayat at saka mag-a-advise sa ating mga komunidad na nasa loob ng evacuation center na kailangan laging naka-mask, kailangan laging naghuhugas ng kamay,” Department of Health spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a briefing on Saturday.

[Translation: Let’s have safety officers who will constantly urge and advise our communities in evacuation centers to wear masks, and wash hands.]

They can also immediately isolate people who develop symptoms, Vergeire added.

Deploying safety officers is one of the ways to minimize the risk of coronavirus transmission in case grouping families together in temporary shelters cannot be avoided.

Challenge lies in physical distancing

Aurora Governor Gerardo Noveras noted in the same briefing that enforcing physical distancing protocols in evacuation centers will be a “big challenge” because of factors that they cannot control.

“May mga factors po na hindi natin kayang saklawan o kayang remedyuhan kagaya po kung maliit lang ang space ng evacuation centers, at marami ang kailangan i-house dun, hindi natin mapapanatili ang physical distancing.”

[Translation: There are factors that are out of our control and cannot be remedied like limited space in evacuation centers where many need to be housed.]

But Noveras said they would make sure that other safety measures are followed.

“Sisiguraduhin naman po namin na sa ganoong sitwasyon ay mayroon namang masks ang mga evacuees na dadalhin doon upang magkaroon pa rin sila ng proteksyon. In case mayroon isang asymptomatic doon o unreported positive case ay hindi sila basta basta mahahawa,” he added.

[Translation: We will make certain that in those situations, evacuees who will be brought to the shelters are wearing masks, so they will still have protection. In case someone in the evacuation center is asymptomatic or is an unreported positive case, they won’t be easily infected.]

The Aurora governor said no one from their province has been evacuated yet due to Typhoon Rolly, which is expected to bring heavy rains and strong winds in Central Luzon. PAGASA on Saturday raised Signal No. 1 in Aurora.