The City of San Juan, once the center of the COVID-19 epidemic rose to the challenge and went the extra mile in responding to the threat, protecting and caring for its constituents to thwart the virus.
Led by Mayor Francis Zamora, aided by the City Council and in collaboration with the City Health Board, and with the guidance of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) plans were made, budgeted and executed.
The health protocols set by IATF were immediately relayed to the constituents for immediate strict implementation.
The City government was able to issue 31 COVID related ordinances and 33 COVID related resolutions where most notable are the San Juan City New Normal Resolution, the Liquor Ban, and the ordinance on the imposition of curfew hours among others.
Under the New Normal Ordinance, the city government sets mandatory safety measures and minimum health protocols not just in offices and buildings but in all areas of the city. It penalizes violators of the city's mandatory safety measures such as the proper wearing of mask and physical distancing with P3,000 for the first offense and P5,000 or three (3) months imprisonment or both for second or subsequent offenses.
With the strict implementation of health protocols, ramping of mass testing, disinfection, and sanitation in different parts of the city, setting up of quarantine facilities, positive cases slowed and recoveries rose.
San Juan City bought an RT-PCR machine and partnered with a private testing facility for faster testing access and results at a much cheaper price. Meanwhile, the BFP and the City Disaster Risk Reduction & Management Office (CDRRMO) take turns driving the patients to the isolation facilities and fetching them once they are fit to return to their families.
On August 13, Mayor Zamora led the turn-over of a 100-bed temporary living quarters to medical frontliners of the San Juan Medical Center (SJMC). The City of San Juan converted the classrooms of San Juan Elementary School into living quarters for the medical staff of the city hospital to offer them a close respite after grueling work treating COVID-19 patients of the city.
"We recognize the hard work of our medical frontliners at the San Juan Medical Center. Exhausted after long hours of work, we want to provide them with a nearby accommodation," Zamora said.
The school is a mere 1-minute walk from the hospital. The classrooms were converted into sleeping quarters with beds, toilets and showers, while a mess hall and kitchen were converted inside the campus to provide the frontliners with warm, home-cooked meals three times a day. Free WiFi was also installed for their use.
Hospital staff positivity rate of SJMC remains one of the lowest in Metro Manila at a combined 10% since March of this year. Zamora has also made sure public medical frontliners of the city hospital were not left wanting for PPEs.
Public medical frontliners of San Juan City will also be receiving a one-time financial incentive of P5,000. Public medical frontliners qualified from the P5,000 incentive are those from SJMC, the City Health Office, medical workers of the PNP, BFP, City Hall and Barangays manning the COVID-19 Facilities of the city, as well as swabbers from the different city offices.
Public non-medical frontliners involved in the social and peace and order sectors, on the other hand, will be receiving a P3,000 one-time financial incentive. These are from the PNP, BFP, City Hall and Barangays who are part of the city's workforce fighting the spread of COVID-19. Benefits for frontliners include: once a week free swab test for Medical Frontliners and once a month free swab test for non-medical frontliners.
As part of the city's efforts to fight COVID-19 and keep its citizens free from the disease, P3,000 financial assistance will also be released to families of COVID-19 patients who admitted themselves to the COVID-19 facilities of the city. Citizens who get treated in its medical facilities will be given free meals, free wifi, and with zero balance billing.
San Juan City admits citizens who are sick of the disease at three (3) COVID-19 facilities - the San Juan Medical Center, the Kalinga Center, and the San Juan National High School Annex Basketball Court, and sends others to the Oplan Kalinga facility of the IATF in Cubao.
For education, the city government together with the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) and with leading trainers from the University of the Philippines Cisco Net Academy, Q Software Research Corporation, Google Philippines, and Habi Education Lab are now training San Juan teachers on education technology software and navigating the government-issued learning devices.
Further, scholarships are being offered to students and cash incentives are given to graduating honor students of public schools ranging from P2,000 to P10,000.
Locally stranded individuals (LSIs) in the city are also given the extra mile benefits. The CDRRMO facilitates and expedites their return plus: free coordination for health clearance, travel authority and certificate of assistance; free COVID-19 tests; free transportation (with CDRRMO) vehicle for Luzon-bound) and staff to coordinate and assist at destination; free pick up from the airport, PITX, port, any nearby provinces for San Juan-bound indigent LSI; free transport to the airport, PITX, port, any nearby provinces for indigent LSI stranded in San Juan; transportation allowance (Luzon-bound with available public transport, Visayas and Mindanao) for indigent LSI and food allowance during the trip.
THE CDRRMO ere also given the task to facilitate Muslim burial in accordance with traditional religious practices but still following health and hygiene protocols set by IATF.
For food security, the City Government collaborated with the Department of Agriculture (DA) to set up an Urban Garden in the City, with training on urban agriculture and free seeds given to interested San Juanenos. Palengke On Wheels which sell agricultural products at very much discounted prices are regular scenes in the City. (PIA-NCR)