Gov’t assigns anti-COVID-19 czars to boost fight against virus

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 14, 2020   •   404

The Duterte Administration assigned anti-COVID czars to intensify the country’s response against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The Malacañang admitted that the number of COVID-19 cases in the country continues to rise but it assured that the administration is still in control of the situation.

Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque, Jr. introduced the four anti-COVID czars, namely, Secretary Vivencio Dizon as Chief Testing Czar, Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong as Chief Tracing Czar, Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar as Chief Isolation Czar, and Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega as Chief Treatment Czar.

Roque explained that all four anti-COVID czars will be directly under the National Task Force Against COVID-19 (NTF) led by Chief Implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr.

Mas malawakang targeted testing, mas maraming isolation centers, mas matinding tracing, at mas matinding treatment para sa mga nagkakasakit. Lahat po yan sa ilalim ng NTF, sa ilalim ng ating Chief Implementer Secretary Galvez (More extensive targeted testing, additional isolation centers, improved contact tracing, and better quality of treatment for patients. All of these will be under the NTF, under Chief Implementer Secretary Galvez),” Roque said.

Chief Testing Czar Secretary Dizon reported there are now 85 COVID-19 laboratories nationwide, with nearly 1 million tests done as of July 11. Daily tests as of July 9 reached 25,000, nearing the 30,000 daily tests target by end of the month.

For tracing, Chief Tracing Czar Mayor Magalong said they are seeking to intensify skills training for contact tracers and use a contact tracing e-system composed of a COVID-19 data collection tool, a GIS (geographical information system) platform, and a Link Analysis Tool.

Chief Isolation Czar Secretary Villar said they plan to construct more quarantine facilities nationwide. Aside from the existing 129 regional evacuation centers, they are also building quarantine facilities in Region 7, Region 8, Region 10, and in Region 12.

Meanwhile, Chief Treatment Czar Dr. Vega said expanding hospital capacity will be one of his priorities. He also introduced One Hospital Command which will be in charge of both public and private hospitals and quarantine facilities in terms of planning healthcare capacity among others.

Galvez also said the NTF will also focus on the economy and social recovery of the country.

Nandito po tayo sa sitwasyon na dahan-dahan nating binubuksan ang ating ekonomiya. Bagaman nandito po ang threat ng virus, kailangan na nating i-recover ang ating mga ekonomiya para manumbalik po ang negosyo at trabaho ng ating mamamayan (We are in a situation where we are slowly opening our economy. Even though the threat of the virus is still there we still need our economy to recover so that businesses and jobs will reopen for our citizens), he said. –AAC

DILG tells LGUs: Endorse mild, asymptomatic COVID-19 patients to Oplan Kalinga facilities

Robie de Guzman   •   September 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Monday urged local government units (LGU) in Metro Manila to endorse to Oplan Kalinga quarantine facilities mild and asymptomatic novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients that could no longer be accommodated in local isolation centers.

In a statement, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said there now 4,000 beds available in Oplan Kalinga facilities due to the increase in discharges or recoveries in the previous weeks.

“We urge all Metro Manila LGUs to endorse patients which they can no longer accommodate in their local isolation facilities to endorse them to the Mega TTMFs and Oplan Kalinga Hotels which now has some 4,000 beds available because many have already been discharged,” he said.

Año said this is in compliance with Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) Resolution No. 74 which states that all confirmed mild and asymptomatic COVID-19 patients are required to isolate in government-approved facilities, except those who are vulnerable or have comorbidities as certified by a local health officer.

Also exempted in this rule are confirmed mild and asymptomatic COVID-19 patients in areas where the government-recognized isolation centers are in full capacity.

“Meron tayong mga Mega Quarantine Facilities and 31 COVID hotels na kung saan puwede sila mag-isolate. Importante kasi talaga na mailabas sila sa bahay kasi nakahahawa sa pamilya,” the DILG chief said.

According to DILG spokesperson, Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, LGUs can coordinate directly with the One Hospital Command Center (OHCC) located at the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) which was created to facilitate a comprehensive and coordinated response to the pandemic by ensuring an efficient health facility referral in Metro Manila.

Malaya said that with the establishment of the OHCC, LGUs and individuals can now easily locate hospitals or isolation facilities near them.

The DILG said the command center is open 24/7 and individuals needing treatment may call the OHCC hotlines at 0927-728-0750, 0927-728-0753, 0927-728-0755, and 0927-728-0798.

Individuals needing assistance from the OHCC may also download the PureForce Citizens App via Google Play Store or App Store, it added.

Facility-based isolation for asymptomatic, mild COVID-19 cases now mandatory

Marje Pelayo   •   September 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) is now requiring facility-based isolation for confirmed asymptomatic and mild coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases through IATF Resolution 74.

The new policy however, exempts patients who are considered vulnerable or having comorbidities and their home meets the conditions specified in the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Joint Administrative Order 2020-0001. 

Likewise, another exception is when the Ligtas COVID-19 Centers within the region are fully occupied and the local government unit does not have sufficient isolation facilities.

Iloilo City placed under MECQ from Sept. 25 until Oct. 9

Marje Pelayo   •   September 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Iloilo City has been placed under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) effective September 25 until October 9 due to the increasing number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the city.

According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque the new measure is based on the issued Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) Resolution 74 which also requires facility-based isolation for confirmed asymptomatic and mild COVID-19 cases.

However, the resolution exempts patients who are considered vulnerable or having comorbidities as confirmed by the local health officer.

Another exception would be when the Ligtas COVID-19 Centers within the region are fully occupied and the local government unit does not have sufficient isolation facilities.

On Tuesday (September 22), 33 employees of the Iloilo City Hall tested positive for COVID-19 prompting the three-day temporary closure of the establishment beginning Wednesday (September 23) as declared by Mayor Jerry Treñas in Executive Order No. 215-A.

Prior to that, 13 barangays in the city were placed under total lockdown due to the increase in community transmission of COVID-19.

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