Almost three months have passed since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic which in Italy, as in the Philippines, caused many deaths. Specifically, out of 12.942 confirmed cases, filipino victims are 837. The most affected group are people over 60 years old (around 68%). According to the Department of Health 89 % of all confirmed cases are mild. This sounds like good news, since mortality rate in the country remains quite low. The scientific community is trying to study the reason behind this phenomenon. Some say it is because of the climate, some say the peak of the pandemic has yet to come and some claim many cases have been hidden and the mortality rate is much higher. No matter what reality really is, the virus is spreading around the whole country and it cannot be underestimated, with the most affected areas being highly urbanized areas of Metro Manila, Cebu and Davao.

Now that President Rodrigo Duterte’s lockdown has been extended until the end of the month, both the local and international community are concerned about the increasing poverty level, especially for the most vulnerable people who live in overcrowded areas of cities, and in the most remote areas, not furnished with adequate health assistance. Thousands of families across the country are starving since the lockdown does not allow them to work. Few people have started wearing masks, but most still will don’t. They find them suffocating in the city’s heat or lament they rather spend the little money they have on food and survive. Also the concept of social distancing is difficult to explain to people who live crammed in tiny spaces.

Citizens living under the threshold of poverty in the slums and in the countryside are surviving thanks to the many local and international organizations, who provide them food and other essential goods. Also Kito Onlus has temporarily suspended its activities in the construction sites and adapted its actions in order to support the local population of Mindoro Island in this time of pandemic. Our field manager Anna Orlando is distributing food and protective masks to hundreds of families who find themselves without a job due to the lockdown. The response of the local population has been positive, and we shall expand this activity in the next weeks of lockdown in order to continue withstanding the local population in this time of emergency.

A beneficiary of Kito Onlus in Mindoro Island just received food and a protective mask.

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