At a time when physical distancing is considered a crucial step for preventing the spread of disease, life in a densely populated urban community can be exceptionally challenging. Recent studies have shown how “denser locations [are] more likely to have an early outbreak,” as seen in the rising number of COVID-19 cases in places like the city of Manila. With a population density of 46,000+ people per square kilometre, Manila has recorded a total COVID case count of more than 60,000.
The lack of space, however, is only the beginning of the problem. In most densely populated areas, the issue of overpopulation is almost always parallel to the challenge of providing people with equal and affordable access to quality social services, such as health care. The scarcity of resources, especially in city slums where communities face fewer economic opportunities to improve their circumstances, leave the urban poor all the more vulnerable to the impact of the pandemic.