Philippines: Hundreds of Construction Workers Test Positive for COVID-19

Aie Balagtas See and Jeoffrey Maitem
Manila and Cotabato, Philippines
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200709-PH-covid-620.jpg Medical workers conduct drive-in COVID-19 testing in Taguig city in Metro Manila, April 29, 2020. (Basilio Sepe/BenarNews)
Photo: Benar

More than 300 Filipino construction workers in Metro Manila tested positive for COVID-19, officials said Thursday, as the country’s cases surpassed 51,000.

The government of Taguig city reported that nearly half of the workers tested were positive for the coronavirus.

“These areas are a construction site in Bonifacio Global City, where 327 of the 691 workers who underwent testing tested positive for COVID-19; and four areas in Lower Bicutan, where 111 out of the 2,104 tests conducted so far tested positive,” Mayor Lino Cayetano said in a statement Thursday on the I Love Taguig Facebook page.

The city government issued a statement on Wednesday noting that these infections were responsible for most of the new cases in the past few days.

“COVID-19-positive patients have been isolated and are now closely monitored in government facilities,” it said. “Rest assured that the local government is on top of the situation.”

Across the Philippines, the national health department reported 1,395 new COVID-19 infections and no deaths on Thursday. It warned that there were deaths that have not been validated.

The nation has recorded 51,754 infections and 1,314 deaths as a result of the pandemic. Globally, the number of COVID-19 cases surpassed 12 million and deaths surpassed 550,000, according to the latest data from disease experts at U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.

The Philippines is second among Southeast Asian countries in terms of infections, trailing Indonesia, which has more than 64,000.

Despite the growing number of cases, the central government has eased up on rules and has allowed certain public functions to resume in Manila even as it remains under a general quarantine. Cebu, in the central Philippines, meanwhile, continues to be under an enhanced quarantine.

In a speech aired Wednesday evening, President Rodrigo Duterte said the country could not afford to follow the lead of other countries that experienced a “relapse” of coronavirus transmission as they reopened their economies following months of lockdowns.

“What really happened in these countries is that, although they opened their economy for money to come into the coffers, there was a spike. … It was like a relapse … and that’s what’s hard,” Duterte said.

“We do not even know if the number of 34,178 active cases is still part of the first wave or have we arrived at a second wave? I don’t think so,” he said. “We are still grappling with the first wave,” he said.

Vaccine development

Professor Nina Gloriani of the Philippines College of Public Health, who heads the country’s vaccine development expert panel, said her group was coordinating with the World Health Organization and different vaccine developers to participate in trials by October.

“We will join what is called a solidarity trial for vaccines that will be supervised by the WHO. This is to study the safety and effectiveness of a vaccine that will be tested by many countries,” Gloriani said during the health department’s briefing.

“We will soon know which of these vaccines will be truly effective for use in our country,” she said.


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