THE Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) called Saturday, August 1, for a two-week enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Metro Manila to be used as a “time-out to refine our pandemic control strategies.”
This came after the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) on July 31 placed the National Capital Region (NCR) and Calabarzon, among other areas in the country, under general community quarantine (GCQ) despite the rising number of coronavirus infections.
The Department of Health reported on Friday, July 31, 4,063 additional cases of coronavirus disease (Covid-19), bringing the country’s total to 93,354. More than half of the new cases, or 2,267, were from the NCR.
The PCP said the country needs a consolidated and definitive plan of action, “as we are waging a losing battle against Covid-19.”
It raised concerns on hospital workforce deficiency, failure of case finding and isolation, failure of contact tracing and quarantine, transportation safety, workplace safety, public compliance with self-protection, and social amelioration.
Malacañang, however, defended the IATF and President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to keep Metro Manila and Calabarzon under GCQ.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement that the GCQ classification of these two areas has been a subject of debate among members of the IATF.
“The Palace understands the delicate balancing act between public health and the economic health of the nation given the Metro Manila and Calabarzon make up 67 percent of our economy,” Roque said.
He added that the strict local community quarantine has “already served its purpose.”
“We need to intensify other strategies,” he said. “It is for this reason that the local government units of Metro Manila have been directed to implement a strict localized lockdown or enhanced community quarantine in barangays where 80 percent of cases are located.”
Roque said local government units must now implement other strategies, such as 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.
“Community quarantine alone, we repeat is an insufficient response in controlling Covid-19,” he said.
“We are scaling up hospital capacity by increasing allocation of Covid-dedicated beds while hiring more doctors, nurses, and medical personnel. We are also engaging the community through risk communication, social mobilization, and advocacy to observe the minimum public health standards of wearing a mask,” he added.
The spokesperson said Malacañang welcomes inputs and comments from concerned stakeholders.
“We will include them in future IATF meetings,” he added.
The PCP, in its letter to Duterte, also appealed for reconsideration of the move to re-open several business establishments that were previously closed due to the community quarantine.
“We also appeal to your good offices to reconsider the pronouncement of the Department of Trade and Industry regarding the approval to reopen businesses such as gyms, tutorial services, review centers, internet cafes, pet grooming services, and drive-in cinemas,” it said.
Placed under GCQ from August 1 to 15 are Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City, Talisay City, Minglanilla, Consolacion and Zamboanga City.
The rest of the country is now under modified general community quarantine. (SunStar Philippines)