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It's a 'Mass Gathering,' Says DOH and Gov't Wants No Repeat

They'll be sent home after undergoing rapid tests.
by Clara Rosales
Jul 28, 2020
Photo/s: Jerome Lascano

(UPDATE) Some 2,000 stranded persons remain housed at the Rizal Stadium in Manila and the government is arranging for their transportation back home to the provinces as early as Thursday this week, a Cabinet official said.

To avoid a similar incident, stranded persons in Manila seeking to come home will be grouped per region. If there are five regional desinations for example, the stranded persons will be divided into five groups, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said.

The scene at the stadium was a "mass gathering," Health Usec. Rosario Vergeire said. "Hindi ho masyado na-enforce yung ating standards for health para maiwasan ang impeksyon. Pero ginagawan naman ho ng paraan ngayon (Health standards to prevent the pread of infection were not fully enforced. It is being addressed)," she said.

"Alam naman po natin na kailangan hindi magkaroon ng pakikipagsalamuha ang maramihang tao sa ngayon dahil ang impeksyon ay maaaring magtransmit nang mabilis sa mga ganitong pagkakataon," Vergeire told Teleradyo

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(We are all aware that crowds should not have contact with each other because the virus can be transmitted fast in this situation.)

As many as 8,000 people packed the stadium over the weekend, versus the 3,600 who originally signed up for bus or boat rides home. They were all required to undergo testing, hence, their trips were pushed further into this week,  Año said.

Photos of the packed stadium have raised concerns over whether social distancing was observed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. A Palace official overseeing the welfare of the stranded persons said authorities chose the "lesser evil" of moving them to the arena instead of letting them out in the rain where they could get sick.

“Ihahatid natin ito hanggang Huwebes ang pinaka-target natin (We will transport them, until Thursday is our target.),” Año told ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo.

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Of the 8,000, 4,793 have been sent home, but 2,000 remain stranded in the stadium. A total 284 persons were sent to a housing site in Bulacan while waiting for their provinces to

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All stranded individuals will undergo rapid testing before being allowed to leave the stadium. According to Presidential Management Staff Assistant Secretary Joseph Encabo, 8 to 9 individuals tested positive for COVID-19. They were immediately isolated and underwent confirmatory tests.

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