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COVID-19 WATCH

A little community under threat

Trina Ibarle Orquiza

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A SECURITY guard (not the one from the story) waters the plants to keep busy during the COVID-19 coronavirus lockdown in Manila. Photo by Maria TAN / AFP

“I just wish this lockdown would end,” sighed the elderly security guard who manned our condominium compound’s barrier gate.

He, along with the other security guards in our condominium compound, were weary from a day of conducting thermal scans of around 120 food delivery riders aside from disinfecting all the tires of vehicles entering the area.

Away from home for more than two weeks now, the building’s security guards opted to stay in the staff’s quarters and have been working tirelessly to protect the little community in our mid-rise condominium during the imposed enhanced community quarantine.

Upon the lockdown announcement on 16 March, security had been tightened to protect the building’s residents. Regular temperature checks of people entering the building were conducted. Foot disinfection mats had been placed in all access points, stairwells, and elevators. Reminders for social distancing and sanitation measures were posted in the elevators and bulletin boards.

Life went on peacefully as it was before these measures were put in place. It never occurred to us that our little cul-de-sac would be disturbed by anything more than the Luzon-wide lockdown itself.

Grim advisory
But on 29 March, a lengthy and grim advisory was placed prominently beside the previous posters in the elevators. One of the condominium’s tenants was found to be positive of the coronavirus – the lone COVID-19 patient in the barangay – while another resident was identified as a person under investigation (PUI).

The building management then listed new rules. Face masks had to be worn at all times. The window hours for grocery, medicine and other errands or even entering and exiting the compound were shortened to six hours, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The street had also been closed down on both ends, with barangay tanods manning the posts.

These measures were actually less severe than the barangay captain’s proposal to place the entire compound on lockdown given the two cases, but the condominium management haggled to soften the regulation and instead do self-policing methods to prevent the virus’ spread in the barangay.

Decreased movement
Since then, movement has decreased in the compound. Residents kept inside their respective units. It was rare to take the elevator with someone else. Water and food delivery riders, now disallowed from lingering in the building lobby, had to meet residents and hand them their food from the driveway. Even the building’s resident cats, who usually went out at night for a quick pet or a snack treat from the community’s cat lovers, were nowhere in sight.

The once vibrant community seemed to have disappeared.

But despite this, the people made their presence felt as they provided for supplies to make the stay of the security and maintenance staff more bearable during the quarantine. Generous donations of food, vitamins and toiletries were provided, while some residents even pitched in with a loan of comfortable beddings and pillows.

Almost a week after the announcement, no talks about the COVID-positive patient and the PUI have been heard. Residents were just assured by the building management that the patient found positive was already recovering from the virus. It is fortunate that the barangay’s tally did not increase as the number has still been kept to a lone person.

And we, the residents, are just waiting for the time when the air clears once again so we could go back to normalcy in this little nook that we call our home.

 

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