(August 1, 2020) – The Philippine government on Saturday thumbed down doctors’ calls to place under stricter lockdown the capital region due soaring coronavirus cases, a top government spokesman said.
Harry Roque said proposals to re-impose the tough Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) was intensely debated by members of the government crisis task force but decided to ease curbs to allow the economy to recover.
“The strict lockdown in Metro Manila has served its purpose, and we need to intensify other strategies,” Roque said.
“Community quarantine alone, we repeat, is an insufficient response in controlling COVID-19. We are scaling up hospital capacity by increasing allocation of COVID-dedicated beds while hiring more doctors, nurses, and medical-personnel.”
Roque was reacting to calls made on Saturday by the Philippine College of Physicians.
The doctors’ group vice president Maricar Limpin suggested to place Metro Manila under ECQ for two weeks to give health workers a break from as streams of COVID-19 patients were admitted to hospitals.
President Rodrigo Duterte has kept the general community quarantine (GCQ) restrictions in Metro Manila and nearby areas until August 15.
Similar curbs are to be imposed in Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City, Minglanilla and Consolacion towns in Cebu province, and Zamboanga City, while the rest of the country is under a modified GCQ.
“The August 1-15 general community quarantine (GCQ) classification of Metro Manila has been a subject of debate and discussion by the members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID),” Roque said.
“The Palace understands the delicate balancing act between public health and the economic health of the nation given that Metro Manila and CALABARZON make up 67% of our economy,” he said.
Senator Sonny Angara has warned the economy will likely collapse if the capital region goes back to just the modified ECQ.
Roque said “it is for this reason that the local government units (LGUs) of Metro Manila has been directed to implement a strict localized lockdown / enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in barangays where 80% of cases are located and the publication of these barangays.”
Roque said other measures the LGUs must implement include the stringent enforcement of minimum public health standards; massive targeted testing, intensified tracing, quarantine of close contacts; and strict adherence to the implementation of Oplan Kalinga for isolation of confirmed cases.
“We are also engaging the community through risk communication, social mobilization and advocacy to observe the minimum public health standards of wearing a mask washing of hands, and keeping a physical distance.
Mag-mask, hugas, iwas is the battle cry in our war against COVID-19,” he said.
“We welcome comments of various stakeholders and we will include them in future IATF meetings,” he added.
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