‘Distance stick’ eyed to protect Laguna folk from virus
The city government of San Pablo in Laguna province is set to start in September a “distance stick” project meant to form part of personal protective equipment, along with face masks and face shields, to avoid contracting the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
It will also replace the quarantine pass to residents with identification cards printed with a QR (quick response) code to improve its contact tracing, according to city information officer Leo Abril.
The stick is a meter long to remind people of the minimum safe physical distance and is made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a lightweight plastic material. It comes with a “clip” at one end, which a person can use to hand over money when buying from stores or push open doors in malls or groceries.
“[Its purpose] is to minimize contact [and to prevent individuals] from touching surfaces,” said Abril on Wednesday.
He said “thousands” of distance sticks were being prepared to be distributed for free in San Pablo, which had recorded 130 COVID-19 cases as of Aug. 18.
City officials lamented how the initiative was undermined when it was launched during the Aug. 15 National Task Force (NTF) for COVID-19 meeting with the local government.
During the meeting, male dancers with distance sticks pranced around a red spherical mascot covered with spikes, a rendition of how the coronavirus looked like under a microscope.
They danced to an IEC (information, education, and communication) campaign jingle, “Corona Lumayo Ka” (Corona, Stay Away) but which netizens later replaced with the tourism campaign song, “It’s More Fun in the Philippines.”
Some of the comments said the dance was a “waste” of government time and money, if not “ridiculous.”
“Every (IEC) requires some budget, but for that one, I believe it’s just very minimal,” Abril said to justify the presentation, without disclosing the cost to mount the dance.
COVID-19 testing czar Vince Dizon, who was present at the event, lauded the city’s initiative, while Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar later denounced the “misleading and edited” video posted on social media.
San Pablo is set to turn another building at Dalubhasaan ng Lungsod ng San Pablo, a city college, into an isolation facility while another quarantine building is under construction.
The NTF has asked local governments to increase its tracing ratio between an infected person and his close contacts to 1 to 37 for urban cities and towns, and 1 to 25 to 1 to 30 for rural towns.
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