We are now nearing the end of April and we are into the 6th week of the lockdown here in Metro Manila. Like much of the Philippines, people have not been able to work or do much at all during this time as we all aim to slow the spread of the virus – to ‘flatten the curve’.
This week we reached 100 families with the relief goods. Our Café mothers, older scholars in our dorm, and other Payatas-based staff have been able to buy, pack, and distribute the food on the same day. This week the pack contained:
- 5kg of rice
- 1kg of monggo (local lentil)
- ½ kg of string beans
- 1kg of pumpkin
- 1kg of cabbage
- 1kg of ampalaya
Lockdown is Extended
It is also now official that the lockdown in the Philippines is extended until May 15. Given the lack of testing and treatment, it is likely to continue sometime after that – if not a full lockdown, a highly restricted quarantine in some form. We will of course need to prepare to continue the weekly food packages for our families until May 15 and onwards.
It is clear by now that some countries, and some leaders, are doing much better than others. On one hand you do not want to end a lockdown too early, as the virus will sweep through in a second wave and make the first lockdown a waste of time and effort. On the other hand, there is still a complete lack of testing and treatment in the Philippines, meaning the virus is still not being identified properly. It is still unclear how widespread this really is, because there is just not enough testing being done. There are several confirmed cases in Payatas, however there is no testing in the area and so the true count is impossible to know.
So far, just shy of 90,000 tests have been done in the Philippines since this crisis began. To put that into context, Vietnam have done more than 200,000 tests done, more than twice as many, and due to this coming very early in this crisis, their tracing, testing, and treatment meant they limited the outbreak to just 270 confirmed cases. In short, it is possible for poorer countries to have handled this crisis, but it required effective leadership.
Now that we are in the next phase of trying to contain the spread, the next benchmark is how quickly countries can reach 10,000 tests per million population. As it stands, the Philippines would have to go just beyond 1,000,000 tests to get there, due to it’s population of over 100 million people. Why is that figure so important? Because it is the only way to really understand how widespread the virus is, where the hotbeds are, and so how to effectively treat of the virus. As Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Head of the World Gealth Organisation, said: “You cannot fight a fire blindfolded. And we cannot stop this pandemic if we don’t know who is infected.”
Given the slow testing capabilities, it is impossible to say just how bad the spread of the virus is. For those interested in a more accurate way of measuring the impact and true death toll of the coronavirus, given many cases are not confirmed, read this Economist article.
The Payatas Paper: Issue 1
In Payatas specifically, there is some good news as we are happy to announce the 1st issue of The Payatas Paper. Think of it as a student newspaper, as our scholars write, draw, and design the paper. With a great lead article from one of our Senior High School students about life under lockdown, this is a constructive way for our scholars to do something positive and meaningful during this time – without breaking the curfew or quarantine restriction.
We limit it to four pages so expect that every Wednesday as our students share their stories, ideas, artwork, and more so head over to The Payatas Paper page specifically for more about our student newspaper.