'Nakakabahala': DOH says crowding of people at Manila Bay worrying

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 21 2020 12:44 PM

Cirizens flock to the Manila Baywalk as the “white sand area” of Manila Bay temporarily opens to the public over the weekend. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The Department of Health on Monday expressed disappointment at how people crowded Manila Bay during the opening of a "white sand" beach over the weekend, raising the risk of the spread of COVID-19.

“Ito ay isang nakakabahalang sitwasyon. Alam natin lahat hindi pa ho nawawala ang virus dito sa atin,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a virtual briefing.

(This is a worrying situation. We know that the virus is still not gone.)

“Kung meron tayong proyektong ganito ito ay maganda at kahanga hanga ngunit kailangan pa rin nating i-enforce ang minimum health standards,” she said.

(A project like this is good and impressive but we need to enforce minimum health standards.)

"Kailangan lang po mapaalalahanan ang ating mga kababayan na ito po ay isang delikadong sitwasyon dahil maaari pong magkaroon ng pagkahawa hawa ang ating mga mamamayan na nagpupunta d'yan na hindi po pinapatupad ng maigi ang minimum health standards," she added.

(We just have to remind Filipinos that this is a dangerous situation because they might get infected if they go there and minimum health standards are not imposed.)

Vergeire said they immediately alerted the Department of the Interior and Local Government when they received reports of the mass gathering. She said Interior Secretary Eduardo Año immediately coordinated with the City of Manila while the Philippine National Police sent more officers to enforce physical distancing.

“I think tomorrow in the IATF this will also be discussed. Antayin natin ang magiging desisyon ng Inter-Agency Task Force regarding this matter, (Let’s just wait for the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force),” she said.

The Ermita police station commander was immediately sacked after his team was unable to prevent the violation of COVID-19 safety protocols.

Meanwhile, Manila Bay, which made headlines due to its recently unveiled artificial white sand beach, was again closed to the public because of the incident.