Press Release
March 12, 2020

Water shortage a threat to COVID-19 response, Hontiveros warns

"Paano tayo maghuhugas ng kamay kung wala namang tubig?" This was the question posed by Senator Risa Hontiveros on Thursday as the number of infected individuals who have contracted the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19), climbed to 49 cases as of last night.

Hontiveros said that the ongoing water shortage in Metro Manila is putting entire communities at grave risk, denying many Filipinos the ability to protect themselves against the COVID-19 outbreak. The Senator raised her warning following announcements by water concessionaires Manila Water and Maynilad that they will implement rotational water service interruptions starting this month.

Hontiveros said that the supply interruptions will have a severely disastrous effect on efforts to contain the fast spread of COVID-19 in the metro. "There is only one thing more important than face masks or alcohol in our fight to prevent the virus and that is running water," Hontiveros said.

"Proper handwashing with soap and running water is the most effective way to kill viruses and avoid getting infected," she also said. "Kapag mahina ang tulo ng tubig, hihina din ang laban natin sa COVID-19. Nilalagay natin sa peligro ang mismong buhay at kalusugan ng ating mga kababayan," Hontiveros stressed.

Hontiveros said that especially vulnerable are people living in poor and densely-populated communities where social distancing can be impossible.

She then urged the government, especially the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) and the Metropolitan Waterworks Sewerage System (MWSS) to step up their efforts to boost the water supply in communities in the upcoming weeks.

Steady water supply, Hontiveros said, should be particularly provided to urban poor neighborhoods and areas where there is heavy concentration of people. "Magpadala na po kayo ng water trucks, para kumpleto ang tulog ng mga tao, imbes na pumipila o naghihintay ng tulo ng gripo sa hating gabi o madaling araw," Hontiveros urged the water concessionaires.

"We should not allow poor public services to worsen the already terrible COVID-19 outbreak into a deadly health crisis," she concluded.

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