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A police officer makes sure claimants of cash aid from the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) observe physical distancing while waiting for their turn at the Tambo Elementary School in Paranaque City on Monday (May 4, 2020) / PNA

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The Quezon City Health Department (QCHD) reported that as of 10:30 pm of March 20, the number of confirmed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the city reached 44, up by four cases from its previous 5:30 pm report on the same day.

Dr. Rolly Cruz, epidemiology head of the QCHD, said there were two deaths and five recoveries out of the 44 cases.

He reported that there were also 155 cumulative number of contacts traced with 27 cumulative number of person under investigation among contacts traced, and 128 cumulative number of person under monitoring among closed contacts.

The four latest COVID-19 patients are from barangays Tatalon, Masagana, Bungad, and Ramon Magsaysay.

A staffer of Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte said a 5:30 pm report on Friday revealed that the number of patients infected with COVID-19 in the city reached 40 from the previous 38 cases earlier reported on the same day.

On Thursday there were 31 COVID-19 patients. The steady rise in the number of patients has alarmed the public despite repeated assurance from the national government that there should be no cause for panic.

Despite the implementation of the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) that limits people movement, several residents in Barangay Botocan in the city’s fourth district continued to go out of their residence.

One of the residents said the ECQ imposed is anti-poor and only benefits the rich people.

“Hindi kami gaanong takot sa COVID-19, takot kaming magutom ang aming pamilya (We are not that afraid of COVID-19, we are more concerned that our families will go hungry),’’ the man said.

Despite the ban on mass transportation during the quarantine period, the men admitted to having continued ferrying passengers with their motorcycles to earn a living.

“Mga 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. byahe namin. Malaking tulong din yung P300 na kita. Hindi pwedeng umaasa sa gobyerno, na bukod sa hindi sapat ang tulong, ay ubod pa ng tagal ang pagdating ng mga ito. No choice lang kami talaga (We operate between 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. The P300 we earn is a big help. We cannot depend on the government, because not only is the aid they provide insufficient, it takes a very long time to reach us. We really have no choice),’’ the men noted.

But when told that they are in danger of contracting the virus or spreading it, they echoed that hungry men do not understand reason no matter how legitimate it may be.

Mayor Joy Belmonte explained that the delay in the distribution of assistance was due to the suppliers being overwhelmed by the huge volume of food and non-food items ordered by the city government.

She said the huge volume is equivalent to 400,000 food packs for two million people a week.

Belmonte said the 400,000 food packs for families or two million people will be distributed weekly until the end of the enhanced community quarantine on April 12.

The Quezon City government started distributing the relief goods for qualified beneficiaries on Friday (March 20).

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