Friday morning, Aling Evelyn rushed her child Nancy, a 16 year old girl with Down’s Syndrome, to the Eastern Bicol Medical Center in Virac, Catanduanes. Nancy is just one of the victims of possible e. coli contamination of Virac’s water system. She suffered from severe stomach pain and diarrhea.
It was a very touching scene - a mother taking care of her child at the hospital. For sure, almost all of us were able to experience that tender loving care only a mother can give when we are sick. The scene may be familiar for all of us – our mothers taking our temperature, putting warm, wet bimpo on our forehead, feeding us with soup, and sleeping by our side.
Almost fifty people, children and adults alike, and mostly residents of Virac experienced diarrhea. Three persons also died of dehydration. Provincial health officials said some of the victims had amoebiasis while it is also possible that the water system was contaminated with fecal e.coli bacteria. Heavy rains that persisted for days could have contaminated the town’s water system.
Residents were told to boil their drinking water coming out from their faucets. Or, they could buy safer purified water. Unfortunately, not too many people in Catanduanes can afford bottled water so they would rather drink boiled tap water. But the problem is, tap water can sometimes be a little murky.
But the Virac Water District claims their water is still potable, if boiled, and they had even increased its chlorine content. But the thing is, during the rainy season which could last up to a few months, there is always a high probability that the water system could be contaminated especially with the defective pipes exposed to flood waters that we saw at Bgy. Constantino.
Now I wonder, whatever happened to the “Patubig ni GMA” project? Isn’t it about providing clean drinking water for everyone, including the people of Virac?