Essential services to continue despite ECQ, BSP says

Robie de Guzman   •   March 29, 2021   •   338

MANILA, Philippines – The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on Monday assured it would continue to provide essential services despite the re-enforcement of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the National Capital Region (NCR) and its neighboring provinces to mitigate the rise in COVID-19 cases.

The NCR, Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, and Laguna which are among the ‘NCR Plus’ bubble have been placed under a week-long ECQ. Only essential workers are allowed to travel during this period.

“The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) shall continue to provide essential services amid the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) declared by the National Government from March 29 to April 4,” it said in a statement.

“The BSP and the banking industry stand ready to ensure the safe and smooth functioning of the banking system,” it added.

The central bank, however, said it would be closed on Thursday and Friday in observance of the Lenten week.

The BSP earlier said it has implemented alternate work arrangements for non-essential workers at its head office in Manila and Security Plant Complex in Quezon City in response to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in the country.

On the other hand, bank personnel from mission-critical departments and support units will continue to report on-site while strictly observing health protocols mandated by the Department of Health.

It has also shortened work hours from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The central bank also renewed its push for the use of digital payment as this allows the public to carry out needed financial transactions safely amid the health crisis.

Duterte to announce new quarantine status for May on April 28 — Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   April 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to announce this week the community quarantine classifications for the month of May, Malacañang said Monday.

“Baka po si presidente na ang mag-anunsyo dahil ang talk to the people po ay sa Wednesday,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Palace briefing.

Roque said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) is set to meet on Tuesday to discuss its recommendations that will be submitted to the president for approval.

The National Capital Region (NCR), Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, and Laguna – collectively tagged as NCR Plus – are under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) until April 30. Other areas in the country have also been placed under MECQ and general community quarantine.

Roque assured that the IATF and health experts will study the data on the COVID-19 situation in the country and carefully consider the daily attack rate, two-week attack rate, and health care utilization.

“Mayroon tayong mga assessment na dapat gawin, at itong mga assessment na ito ay kinakailangang magbigay ng kasagutan ang mga lokal na pamahalaan para maseguro namang hindi rin masayang yung ating halos isang buwang lockdown,” he said.

The task force will also revisit strategies, including the implementation of minimum health protocols, and if these are strictly enforced by local government units to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier said he is in favor of extending the MECQ in the NCR Plus for another week or two as the country’s health systems capacity has yet to significantly improve amid the continuing threat of COVID-19. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duque favors extended MECQ for NCR Plus

Robie de Guzman   •   April 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III on Monday said he is in favor of extending the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in the National Capital Region (NCR) and four nearby provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, and Laguna.

In a radio interview, Duque said the MECQ should be extended for another week or two as the country’s health systems capacity has yet to significantly improve amid the continuing threat of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

He also noted that the COVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) capacity of some hospitals in other Metro Manila cities remains at critical risk classification.

Duque believes that the extension of MECQ will help decrease the number of COVID-19 cases and reverse the trend.

The Philippines has so far recorded a total of 997,523 COVID-19 infections, 77,075 of which are active cases.

The NCR and four provinces – called NCR Plus – have been placed under MECQ until April 30.

Malacañang earlier said that the government’s task force for COVID-19 response will look into hard data and use science as its basis in deciding for the next community quarantine classification to be imposed on the country.

The task force will also review the attack rate and the hospital care utilization rate while checking the economic health of the nation.

Decision on next quarantine status will be based on science, hard data – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   April 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang assured the public that the government will look into hard data in deciding for the next community quarantine classification to be imposed on the country.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) will use science as its basis in determining the readiness of the National Capital Region (NCR) and other parts of the country to shift to less strict quarantine status.

“The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) decides on the basis of science and hard data. The members of the IATF, in their next meeting, would look into the analytics of the healthcare system of the National Capital Region Plus and the country,” Roque said in a statement on Sunday.

“Specifically, it will review the attack rate and the hospital care utilization rate while checking the economic health of the nation,” he added.

Collectively called NCR Plus, the NCR and four nearby provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, and Laguna were placed under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) until April 30. The NCR Plus was placed under ECQ in late March due to the surge in COVID-19 infections.

Roque said the IATF is using a “whole-of-government” approach in responding to the COVID-19 situation.

“Our approach is whole-of-government and our overarching goal is to promote the total health of Filipinos, including people who have been marginalized due to loss of jobs and have experienced poverty as a result because of the imposition of strict lockdowns,” he said.

The Philippines has so far recorded a total of 997,523 COVID-19 infections with 903,665 recoveries and 16,783 fatalities. Of the total cases, 77,075 remain active.

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