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Is the Philippines ready for a pandemic?

Poor communities are badly hit by coronavirus as Duterte places the entire archipelago under a state of calamity

Is the Philippines ready for a pandemic?

Homeless children sit inside a restaurant in Quezon City in Manila on March 21 after the shop converted parts of its premises into a shelter for the homeless amid the island-wide lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19. (Photo: Maria Tan/AFP)

The world is being ripped apart by the Covid-19 disease which has hospitalized more than 381,000 people and killed 16,572 worldwide, according to the latest reports.

Borders are being sealed to prevent transmission. Community quarantines are prevalent causing panic buying among those who have purchasing power. But many daily wage earners, even if they panic, have nothing to buy.

This is the predicament of many Filipinos. A 2018 report by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) estimated that 17.6 million Filipinos live below the poverty threshold of 10,727 pesos (US$215). The figure is the average family income for 2018. The average monthly food threshold for a family of five was estimated at 7,528 pesos (US$150), says the report.

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These families are daily commuters. They ride buses and jeepneys to get to work. They also comprise the sector that is badly being hit by Covid-19.

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