Potential ‘superspreader’: Palace warns vs complacency amid Manila dolomite beach frenzy
MANILA, Philippines — Malacanang on Monday warned the public against complacency in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic amid reports of crowding and disregard of health protocols at the dolomite beach in Manila Bay.
During his press briefing, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque reminded parents that children are still not allowed to go out of their homes, and their as outdoor activities would have to concern only essential undertakings.
“Unang-una, ang mga bata talagang for essentials lang po na dapat lumalabas ng kanilang mga tahanan, so hindi pa po pe-pwede talagang magpasyal-pasyal ang mga bata,” he said.
(First of all, children are only allowed outside for essential activities, so they cannot really move out for leisurely trips and for travel.)
“So unang-una nananawagan po kami sa ating mga kababayan no, pandemya pa po, bagamat bumababa po ang mga kaso natin, eh nandyan pa po si COVID-19 so ‘wag po tayo magpabaya no,” he added.
(So first of all, we are calling on the public to remember that we are still under a pandemic, even if our daily cases have started decreasing, COVID-19 is still present so we should not be complacent.)
Roque’s reminder came as several government agencies — from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to the Department of Health (DOH) issued a warning after the massive crowding that was observed at the Manila Baywalk’s dolomite beach in the past two weekends.
On Sunday, there were reports that authorities have recorded over 4,000 individuals at the dolomite beach — which seats on one section of the rehabilitated Manila Bay. The dolomite beach, a project of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, is being promoted as a possible tourist spot.
Roque said that he is calling on law enforcement agencies to implement distancing protocols in the city, as the dolomite beach should be a source of enjoyment, not a superspreader event.
“Nananawagan din po kami sa kapulisan siguro dyan po sa Maynila ano, kinakailangan po ipatupad natin ‘yong social distancing no, talaga naman pong ang dolomite is for the enjoyment of everyone pero ‘wag naman hong maging dahilan ‘yan para magkaroon tayo ng superspreader event,” he said.
(We are also calling on the police in Manila, we need to enforce proper social distancing because the dolomite beach is for the enjoyment of everyone but we do not want it to be a source of a superspreader event.)
Earlier, during the Laging Handa public briefing, Manila Police District (MPD) director Brig. Gen. Leo Francisco said that they will initiate changes in how people can go inside the dolomite beach section of Manila Bay.
The DENR initiated the dolomite beach project in 2020 at the height of the first wave of the pandemic, with its fake white sandy texture akin to the white sands of Boracay. It was widely criticized by opposition groups saying the funds for the controversial project could have been used for COVID-19 response.
But Roque said in September 2020 that the dolomite beach would be good for people’s mental health amid the health and economic crisis.
COVID-19 numbers in the country, especially in Metro Manila, have dropped significantly after the Delta variant-led surge in August. Last Saturday, analytic group OCTA Research said that the reproduction rate for the entire Philippines has already dropped to 0.52.
However, health experts and authorities have warned against being too relaxed, as the threat of the pandemic is still present.
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