Pimentel to NDRRMC: Produce template for Covid-resistant evacuation centers
With the country now well into the most active period for typhoons, Deputy Speaker Johnny Pimentel said he wants the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) to produce a new template for emergency evacuation centers that are resistant to Covid-19.
“We would urge the NDRRMC, along with the Covid-19 Inter-Agency Task Force, to set the standards and guidelines for the new evacuation centers that hopefully will be resistant to the highly contagious respiratory disease,” he said.
“We certainly don’t want the centers to become super spreaders of COVID-19, in the event that local governments have to move out communities threatened by storm surges or flooding,” the Surigao del Sur congressman said.
“Clearly, our pre-pandemic temporary shelters – wherein residents are haphazardly jam-packed into school buildings and gymnasiums without adequate precautions in place – won’t work anymore,” Pimentel said.
He envisioned the new virus-resistant evacuation centers to be less congested to allow more distancing between makeshift tents and to have segregation areas for the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions.
“We also expect the centers to have temperature scans, ample handwashing facilities and personal hygiene provisions, apart from ready supplies of face masks,” Pimentel said.
He also counted on the centers to be routinely disinfected, have access to personal protective equipment, provide for the contactless distribution of food packs, and to be staffed by first responders who can quickly spot possible Covid-19 symptoms among evacuees.
The London-based global risk consulting firm Verisk Maplecroft ranks the Philippines as one of the four most unsafe countries in the world in terms of vulnerability to storms, floods, earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, landslides and other natural disasters. The three others are China, Japan and Bangladesh.
The Philippines not only lies in the world’s most active tropical cyclone basin, it is also situated in the Pacific Ring of Fire where many volcanoes and earthquakes are formed.