Note: It was announced in news reports and leaked memos that barangay Payatas will be placed on extreme lockdown along with two or three other barangays in Quezon City. This appears to be the case only for the immediate areas around confirmed cases, 500m around the house of the confirmed case. This is not in place for the entire community, at least until there are two cases from different households in a community. We will update as the situation changes.
It’s now Day 4 of the Metro Manila lockdown and we’re beginning to see what this will really mean for us and our community in the weeks ahead. Our sports sessions and social clubs (youth group, EQ club, tutorials, mothers’ club, and so on) have had to be postponed until further notice. So as we now fully enter this ‘enhanced community quarantine’/lockdown period, we take a look at:
- What is the situation in Metro Manila?
- What can we do in Payatas?
- How can you help?
What is the situation in Metro Manila?
In terms of confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, there are 202 confirmed cases in the Philippines at the time of writing. While there are no confirmed cases in Payatas thus far, Quezon City now reports more confirmed cases than any other city. A big reason for that, however, is the testing kits are more available here. It is unclear how many cases there really are, and like many countries in the world the real figure will be far higher than the official confirmed cases as of now. We can still expect a rapid rise in confirmed cases for the foreseeable future as the testing kits are rolled out.
After just one day of the lockdown, it was announced that it would be upgraded to an ‘enhanced community quarantine’. Harsher restrictions have now been implemented in Metro Manila as a whole, with public transport (buses, trains, and jeepneys) halted entirely. Checkpoints are now set up along the boundaries of Metro Manila, too, as shown by the GMA report below, though the logistics are still far from perfect. This has caused a lot of problems as even health workers have been stranded with no way of getting to work.
While many stores and offices are closing, some are permitted to stay open – mostly those providing basic necessities, such as groceries, medical supplies, banks, and so on. However some of those are also beginning to close already, especially banks.
Restaurants can only open for delivery and pickup services and while groceries, local markets, and supermarkets remain open, it remains to be seen how the supply getting to them will be affected – not least with widespread panic buying.
And one of the biggest concerns will be how long cant his really go on for? Without the ability to work, those living below or near the poverty line will be getting extremely hungry, anxious, and panicked in coming days. With that in mind we take a look at our plans in Payatas.
What Can We Do in Payatas?
The first support is ensuring the correct information gets out. There has been a lot of worry and concern, especially with so much fake news and unverified information. Some in the community believed contracting the coronavirus is a death sentence, for example. Our first step is to allay the fears and worries in the community, providing verified information only.
Therefore we put together some PSAs and will be posting these around our facilities. Printing may take a bit longer (many shops are closed) but we will get these up in our facilities. Other organisations are welcome to use these collaterals for informational purposes (don’t edit, don’t use for fundraising) but note that many slides are specific to our experience in Payatas.
With washing hands and disinfecting the home being a priority, we’ve also put together some hygiene kits for our families in Payatas for distribution this week. These will be distributed along with information on how to disinfect the home, and wash hands properly. We will also be confirming some announcements about the use of school allowances during this time and further support Fairplay will be able to provide.
Basic needs, especially food, will quickly become the most important need in the community. Relief goods are often given out just one-time and contain a LOT of junk food. We need to find healthier options that will boost the immune system and help fight off viruses for a win-win.
Typically we do not advocate for feeding programs as they are short-term emergency solutions. This lockdown fits the criteria for an effective feeding program, however, and as such we are putting together an emergency menu of oatmeal, lentil soup, and bean curry. We will be announcing when this will begin, and how many people we will be able to serve in total, as availability of stocks become clearer.
This menu will be cooked at the Fairplay Cafe with people able to come with their own bowl for assigned meals and then return home. That will also help with reducing plastic-waste.
For those of you who support Fairplay already, we will be needing to use some finances in order to accomplish this. Given the closure of school and emergency situation, we ask for your understanding in this. If you’d like to support towards this cause, you can click on the Donate button to the side for PayPal, or Contact Us for UK or PHP bank details.
In the meantime, we are also establishing safety measures for the well-being of our staff. Hand-washing stations have been set up at the Cafe and Youth Center, too, which are also now disinfected every day. Once our temperature guns arrive (assuming no further delivery delays due to the lockdown) we will be scanning temperature of all personnel entering our facilities.
If anyone shows a fever, they should be brought to the barangay health facilities for monitoring and evaluation. Naturally, any staff member showing symptoms of coronavirus will follow the same protocol and we confirm their salaries will continue during the quarantine period. Further support will be provided to our Payatas-based staff, not least with many of their partners needing to stop work due with the emergency protocols in place.
We will be assessing the situation frequently as the situation unfolds and as we gain clarity on what’s happening during the lockdown we will likewise assess our HR concerns too. For now, though it’s unfortunate it is necessary to provide some basic needs within the community and assure that we can get through the next four weeks.
How You Can Help
Stay Healthy; Stop the Spread
The first thing you can do is keep yourself healthy. Whether in emergency times or not, eating healthy food (fruits and vegetables), getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly are the best ways of boosting the immune system and protecting physical and mental health. After all, you can’t take care of anyone else unless you take care of yourself.
Stopping the spread is next. Washing your hands, regularly disinfecting the house, and ‘social distancing’ will remain important measures to contain this outbreak.
Finally, please share only verified information. Fake news and unverified claims continue to spread, especially in the Philippines, and they can cause panic and disorder. These have potential to do more damage than the coronavirus itself, and so we ask you to only share information it is verified by a reputable source.
If you would like to help our community in Payatas, please note the following ways:
- Give medical supplies: if you have access to temperature guns and medical masks we would appreciate those as we await delivery of ours
- Give hygiene supplies: if you have soap and/or zonrox to give, we would welcome that for the hygiene kits for families here
Note: both of these would require delivery. At this point we cannot pick up anything.
- Donate for basic needs of families: as the lockdown continues and work stops, families will become more and more desperate for basic needs. We aim to prevent the worst through providing hygiene kits and food served. Our menu of oatmeal, lentil soup, and bean curry, will be produced at minimal cost (roughly $1/day per person for breakfast, lunch and dinner) but will be healthy and filling, contributing to safety of our families.
Naturally we hope the situation will improve, and improve quickly. In the meantime, we hope you and your families are safe. We will keep you updated on our progress here in Payatas as the situation develops.