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People shun malls, public places in Davao Sur city due to COVID-19

DIGOS CITY –– This once bustling provincial capital of Davao del Sur turned deserted as people avoided the malls and fast-food chains because of threat from coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Lisa Diez, 24, a service crew of one of the fast-food chains here said they used to serve at least 20 customers for breakfast before the COVID-19 crisis, but now the fast-food chain was largely empty.

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Rows of tables that used to buzz with customers remained unoccupied as late as 10 a.m.

Even the fast-food chain’s drive-through service, which used to be busy, had no customer as there was hardly any car plying the road.

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In the nearby Bansalan town, only a 30-minute ride away, the newly opened Jollibee outlet only caters to about half the usual number of customers, who used to come for breakfast, according to branch manager Kevin Pantallano.

He said the store used to serve 70 to 80 orders during the 7-10 a.m. breakfast time, but on Wednesday, two days after the President declared a public health emergency, the fast-food outlet served only 40 orders.

The store, which opened in the last week of January, was built after the series of quakes that hit the Davao del Sur and Cotabato provinces last year and devastated most of the structures in town.

Amid the declining number of customers, the fast-food chain maximized its 70 crew to clean and sanitize the tables and chairs being used by the public.

“For now, we allow them to take their leave of absence for up to two days,” Pantallano said.

Fewer mall-goers also go to the malls, which just opened in January after these were ordered closed from the series of quakes last year, said security guard Jerry Planas, 30. He said the cracks left by the earthquakes had been repaired.

Planas said he also feared contracting the disease because he had been exposed to many people but just like the other staff at the mall, he was not wearing a face mask.

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Jenny Belarmino, 21, a salesperson, said the pharmacies had run out of surgical masks and online traders had been selling these at a hefty price.

Jean Solatorio, an online seller on Facebook, said a box of surgical masks, which contained 50 pieces, was sold to her at P1,000 by her Manila supplier.

The shortage of masks prompted students and young people to wear the cloth masks sold on the streets in Davao City, featuring the mouths of President Duterte, Manny Pacquiao, and other celebrities.

In Pagadian City, the local health board recommended the procurement of thermal scanner guns for use at terminals to check all travelers coming here.

Although the city does not have any international flight, “we still have to do our own precautions especially that there are already cases in the Luzon area,” said Pagadian City Mayor Samuel Co.

The city government will deploy personnel at the Pagadian City airport and the Integrated Bus Terminal to monitor and check the temperatures of all incoming travelers.

“We are still identifying other needs that ought to be provided to the front-liners who will be exposed to the crowd,” he said.

City Administrator Vince Quipot also said teams would be deployed in populated barangays. He also asked residents who wanted to volunteer to monitor incoming travelers.

Zamboanga del Sur Governor Victor Yu said the province had prepared a quarantine facility inside the provincial government center, a few meters from the Zamboanga del Sur Medical Center to accommodate ‘persons under investigation’ for COVID-19.

He said the province had been coordinating with the Department of Health for the needed equipment and other logistics needed for the quarantine facility to function.

Edited by Lzb

For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

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