At Cainta-Marikina checkpoint, some pedestrians evade temperature check

Mara Cepeda
At Cainta-Marikina checkpoint, some pedestrians evade temperature check
A barangay health worker in Cainta admits they are undermanned and still lack thermal scanners to accommodate the deluge of people and vehicles entering from Marcos Highway

MANILA, Philippines – Several pedestrians passing through the checkpoint along the border of Marikina City and Cainta – both under quarantine due to the novel coronavirus outbreak – are able to evade temperature check on Monday morning, March 16. 

Health worker Jocelyn Landero of Barangay San Isidro, Cainta, admitted to Rappler the 3 thermal scanners they have are not enough for the deluge of people and vehicles that need to enter Imelda Avenue or Felix Avenue from the Marikina-Infanta Highway, also known as Marcos Highway.

“Kulang na lang po kami siguro sa tao… Kulang [din ang thermal scanners]. Nagpadagdag na po kami. Baka po mamaya, dala na po nila,” Landera said. (READ: Coronavirus lockdown: Metro Manila to Cainta, from one quarantine to another)

(We are perhaps undermanned… We also lack thermal scanners. We already asked for additional ones. Maybe they’ll send them in later.)

Landera said they are expecting 3 more thermal scanners to arrive within the day, but these would likely arrive during the second shift.

At past 6 am on Monday, Landera and two other barangay health workers at the checkpoint were two hours away from ending their 8-hour shift. They are assisted by 7 traffic enforcers and 5 police officers who stop pedestrians and motorists along the road. 

TEMPERATURE CHECK. Barangay health worker Jocelyn Landero checks the temperature of motorcycle riders along Marcos Highway on March 16, 2020. Photo by Rob Reyes/Rappler

But Rappler observed several people are still able to evade having their temperatures checked, especially when the checkpoint personnel are focused on the passengers of stalled vehicles. 

The pedestrians would instead walk on the elevated walkway of the nearby Sta. Lucia East Grand Mall instead of the sidewalk, where the checkpoint frontliners are located. 

The overpass at this part of the highway also has two stairways entering into Cainta. Only one is covered by the checkpoint. On the other side of the street, pedestrians are able to enter and leave Imelda Avenue without any temperature checks. 

Face masks rule

Anyone who wish to enter Cainta through this checkpoint will be required to wear a face mask as well. Those who don’t are asked to improvise with any handkerchief, towel, or cloth they have in their bags. 

If people don’t have anything in their bag to improvise with, traffic enforcer Rizalina Diaz said that they ask the pedestrians to go home or buy a face mask first. 

“Pababalikan na lang po natin. Mag-provide sila ng face mask o kaya kung may mabibilan sila diyan, bumili na muna sila bago sila bumiyahe,” Diaz said. 

(We will ask them to go back home. They have to pesent a face mask or buy one before they go on the road again.) 

FACE MASKS. Pedestrians along Imelda Avenue in Cainta were face masks on March 16, 2020. Photo by Rob Reyes/Rappler

But in most cases, the checkpoint frontliners still allow the people to pass through, since Landero said that it was the humane thing to do while the whole country continues to grapple with the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by 2019-nCoV.

“[May] nakakadaan? Siguro depende na rin sa ano pero minsan kasi, nakikiusap din. Siguro tao din namin. Tao din naman kami, puwede po. Bukas po, hindi na pupuwede,” Landero said. 

(Some people are able to pass anyway? It depends, because some of them appeal to us. We are people like them so we allow some of them to pass through. But we tell them that by tomorrow, they can’t go here without a face mask.)

TRAFFIC DUE TO CHECKPOINT. Vehicles pile up at the boundary of Metro Manila and Rizal province along Marcos Highway corner Imelda Avenue during the rush hour on March 16, 2020. Photo by Rob Reyes/Rappler

The lockdown of Metro Manila and its neighboring areas like Cainta is set to end on April 14, but this may be cut short or extended, depending on the recommendations of the national government’s Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases. 

As of Monday morning, COVID-19 has infected 140 people in the Philippines, 8 of which are fatal. Of the total positive cases, only two have recovered, while 5 patients who now have mild symptoms were asked by the Department of Health to undergo home quarantine. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.