By Mark Cristino

“Here come the astronauts! COVID, COVID!” joke the locals as a group of volunteer health workers, dressed from head to toe in protective medical gear, walk down the winding alleys and passages of a densely populated working class Manila neighborhood to check on positive and suspected cases of Covid-19.

Mercelina Villacampa, Vannessa Morales, Fe Bacunawa and Richell Arsenio have been conducting home visits twice a day since mid-March, when the capital city and the rest of the northern Philippine island of Luzon – the archipelago’s largest and most populous – was put under lockdown in a bid to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. EFE-EPA