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Coronavirus situation in the Philippines: Is it safe to travel here yet?

Coronavirus situation in the Philippines: Is it safe to travel here yet?

March 2020 · 8 min read · Bacolod

Note: I didn't have much pictures outside because I'm currently under self-quarantine. To this date, I'm one week away from completing my 14 days.

Hello there guys! I know all of us are enduring the difficult times we have due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak worldwide. Now let's talk about what we are dealing here in the Philippines right now.

As of today, the entire Luzon island is placed under enhanced community quarantine. My hometown Bacolod City (a.k.a. The City of Smiles) belongs to the Visayas group of islands, but it's likely that our city government would impose that too.

Almost empty inside the Greenbelt Makati
Almost empty inside the Greenbelt Makati

For the latest in the Philippines, here are the following:

- As of today, we have 380 confirmed cases in the country with 73 of them are newly-tested positive, most of them in the National Capital Region. They've also recorded 25 fatalities and 17 recoveries as of this date according to the official website of the Department of Health.

- Quezon City has the most number of cases in the National Capital Region, and some barangays are placed under "extreme quarantine". There's one Patient Under Investigation who escaped with her husband and remains at large. Recently, 3 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 are being sent home to isolate due to the lack of health facilities.

- Muntinlupa City, Imus, Bulacan and other provinces in Luzon has declared a citywide or municipality wide 24-hour curfew. It means only one family member in the household with a valid quarantine pass and ID can go out for the meantime.

- Visayas and Mindanao provinces like Negros Occidental, Cebu, Iloilo, Bohol, Davao, Siargao Islands, and others are implementing general community quarantine.

- Foreigners who are stranded in the Philippines can leave anytime and may request help from the government, provided they will undergo a mandatory 2-week quarantine in their respective destinations. They've now imposed a temporary travel ban for foreign passengers planning to come to Philippines effective today.

- Department of Health secretary Francisco Duque is now under self-quarantine. Lately, he was tested negative for the virus.

- 4 doctors passed away and a few other doctors are in critical condition.

- An 8-year old child dies from the virus, the youngest fatality in the country so far.

- Bills and loan payments nationwide are being extended to additional 30 days. Some establishment owners, especially business tycoons, have waived rental fees to all occupants for a month.

The San Sebastian Cathedral at night
The San Sebastian Cathedral at night

How's the situation in my hometown Bacolod City?

- We have one positive case here in the city. A 56-year old man who has a travel history in London and Manila, and arrived in Bacolod City on February 29th. The patient is now fine and in stable condition. Before he self-quarantined, he already went to various establishments. He was the first confirmed cases in the Western Visayas region, followed by another one in Iloilo City on the following day. In San Carlos City, there's one Patient Under Investigation who died in a local hospital.

- There are 1,777 Patients Under Monitoring in Bacolod City as of this date and may continue to rise. Until now, they've continued intense contract tracing to those who have contacted the PUIs and PUMs, especially the one with a positive case in the city.

- Travel by land, sea or air are restricted. Unless if you have a humanitarian purpose, or a medical worker, military, police or "frontliner" in short. Those who are working in the media may be granted a special media pass.

- As of now, we are under general community quarantine with a citywide curfew between 10 P.M. to 4 A.M. Those who got caught violating the curfew are jailed and fined until the curfew hours are lifted.

- All entry and exit points to and from Bacolod City are now restricted. Those who are out of town but with work in Bacolod City can enter, provided they have a valid company ID.

- Customers are not allowed to go inside the banks without wearing of face masks.

- All PUIs and PUMs are subject to mandatory 14-day quarantine in Bacolod City. Those who defy quarantine will be apprehended by the local authorities immediately.

- A charter plane from Clark rescuing stranded Bacolod City citizens landed at the Silay City airport. There are almost 90 passengers on board and considered as PUMs. There's a bus ready for them as they head off to Mambukal Mountain Resort as their quarantine facility. One person escaped the facility and was later found at their home in a Mandalagan subdivision by the authorities, thanks to the social media spread. Currently, the resort is now closed to tourists.

- Another batch of Bacolod passengers from Batangas are also being rescued, and they also have to go under mandatory quarantine in the Mambukal Mountain Resort.

- Some fire trucks are gonna be used to disinfect the entire city. There are also groups of authorities who are disinfecting the public markets and other dirty areas.

- Social distancing has already begun in essential establishments and riding public utility vehicles. The city mayor hasn't declared total lockdown yet.

- All malls and non-essential establishments are closed except supermarkets, grocery stores, pharmacies, bill payment centers, banks and hospitals.

- Recently, it was announced that senior citizens aged 65 and above and students (no clarification regarding the age bracket) will have a 24-hour curfew starting today because they're the most vulnerable. My dad turns 65 this coming April 13th, so either it may be lifted on April 14th or extended if situation worsens. This will effect in the entire Visayas group of islands, that includes us.

- All business owners are obliged to grant a 1-month gratuity pay to their employees on top of their salaries and 13th month pay under the city mayor's new executive order.

Staying in my home until self-quarantine period is over
Staying in my home until self-quarantine period is over

How I am doing these days?

Since March 15th, I am under voluntary self-quarantine because our neighbor is consider as Patient Under Monitoring (PUM) because he came from Clark, Pampanga (one of the cities with COVID-19 positive cases). I was suppose to hang out with my best friend that day, but my father encouraged me to cancel because of the situation. My mother has dementia, and she came to the neighbor's house that morning, only to be told not to come near. She wasn't aware, so we are urged to stay home if it's not important.

I'm now on Day 7 of my 14-day voluntary self-quarantine, so I don't feel some symptoms such as fever, body weakness or shortness of breath. I cough and sneeze sometimes, but I covered my mouth immediately. I do have allergic rhinitis, which I'm vulnerable to dust or anything that is dirty that makes me sneeze and runny nose.

My parents (who are seniors below 65 years old) are fine and showing no symptoms or weakness. However, we still monitor it day-by-day until the 14 days is over.

Dakasi Milk Tea delivered to my doorstep via Food Panda

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Since I cannot go out to buy milk tea or so, I use the Food Panda app to order instead and deliver to our doorstep. At least, I can still drink milk tea while at home. I also used to eat pancit canton at 888 Chinatown Square Bacolod, but now I can eat them here at home.

Eating my pancit canton snack at home
Eating my pancit canton snack at home

I admit that it feels different staying here at home without getting out for a week. However, it's also an opportunity for me to make up for my lost time with my family. Once my self-quarantine period is over in a week for now, I can give you recent updates about the situation in our city with my own pictures.

Currently for tourists, it's impossible for you now to travel here to Bacolod City until further notice. Domestic flights are now suspended and borders are closed. If you are a foreigner who is not yet in the Philippines, I'm sorry to say that the government has recently banned all foreign tourists from entering the country until further notice to contain the virus.

All I can say is that we need to stay home as much as possible. As I've attended the online Sunday mass, I am enlightened on what the priest have said. If we say that we're doing nothing because of staying home, actually we're doing something! We contributed to help contain and eliminate the virus once and for all.

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I hate to say this but if we don't do our part by just staying home, this crisis won't end. Our frontliners are suffering from stress and fatigue, and getting infected! We only have a limited number of frontliners per municipality, city, province or country, and they won't last forever. Imagine if we have no more frontliners left, who is going to help us treat the ones who are positive?

It's proven that we can defeat this virus once and for all, only if we listen to the government's rules and advice of staying home, proper hygiene and social distancing! We are the final pieces of the puzzle to finally put COVID-19 out of existence!

Let's not make COVID-19 the next Spanish flu (which killed approximately 50 million people after World War 1). We can end this together! It's now for the entire world to unite and beat COVID-19!

Thank you for your time in reading on what is happening in our country now in dealing with this pandemic. Stay safe, be healthy and God bless us all!

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