Fr John Guo sm is the Acting Director of Balay Pasilungan Incorporated, a Marist project for homeless children in Davao, Philippines. Following are some excerpts of their Report as they face the pandemic.
The work of BaPas is currently being impacted by COVID-19
We are closely monitoring the impact of the pandemic of COVID-19 around the world and our BaPas Crisis-Response Team is meeting regularly to assess and how to respond collectively to the situation to ensure the safety of the children and staff of BaPas.
Davao City COVID-19 Situation
The whole country is in lock-down. Davao City has a total population of 1,825,450 is in lock-down since March 16. The lock-down is still the end of April 19 or until further notice. The Mayor of the city has just announced the other day that the lock-down might be extended for another 2 months. As of writing there have been 707 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 in the country with 45 deaths and only few have recovered from the disease. The city government of Davao has passed an ordinance of a city-wide curfew from 9pm to 5am.
Just recently the Department of Health (DOH) here has confirmed the first two coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases in Davao City. The Mayor has ordered the suspension of domestic and international flights and the closure of boarders around Davao region as well.
All religious activities are being halted, schools, business shops are closed except the supermarkets, pharmacies, banks, in-house department stores and medical laboratories. The closure will last until the state of public health emergency is lifted.
The plans we have in place to respond to any impact
We have implemented the following measures to protect the children and staff from COVID-19.
Protocols to protect children from getting sick
Clean hands often using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer (ringing of bell every hour)
Avoid people who are sick (coughing and sneezing)
Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces daily in household common areas (e.g. tables, hard-backed chairs, doorknobs, light switches, remotes, telephone, computer keyboard, handles, desks, toilets, sinks)
Cleaning of toys
Daily Vitamins (Asthmatic Children)
Nebulizers being ready
Regular drinking of water (ringing of bell every hour)
Recovery Room (Isolation Room-to prevent unnecessary exposures among other children and staff at the centre.)
Daily temperature monitoring
REPEAT temperature check as needed to re-assess children who develop any symptoms throughout the day.
If the children are healthy, there is no need for them to wear a face-mask. Only children who have symptoms of illness or who are providing care to those who are ill should wear masks.
Food Security: Assign one staff to be the Purchaser
KEEP THE CHILDREN HEALTHY
Watch each child for any signs of illness.
If you see any sign of illness consistent with symptoms of COVID-19, particularly fever, cough, or shortness of breath, keep the child at the Isolation bring and away from others as much as possible.
Teach and reinforce everyday preventive actions.
Staff play an important role in teaching children to wash their hands. Explain that hand washing can keep them healthy and stop the virus from spreading to others.
Be a good role model—if you wash your hands often, they're more likely to do the same.
HELP EACH CHILD STAY ACTIVE
Encourage each child to play outdoors (within the compound)—it's great for physical and mental health.
Use indoor activity breaks throughout the day to help the children stay healthy and focused.
HELP THE CHILDREN STAY SOCIALLY CONNECTED
Help each child reach out to friends and family via phone or video chats.
Help each child write cards or letters to family members they may not be able to visit.
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