IATF to finalize recommendations on quarantine protocols before June 15

Robie de Guzman   •   June 9, 2020   •   777

MANILA, Philippines – The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) will meet this week to discuss and finalize its recommendation to the President on whether or not quarantine protocols in Metro Manila and other parts of the country will be further loosened or tightened after June 15.

The IATF said its members will meet on Wednesday, June 10, to study newly-analyzed data on the trend of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country in order to draft their resolution which will be presented for the approval of President Rodrigo Duterte.

The task force said it is expected to meet with the president in Davao City on Thursday, June 11.

Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Pangasinan, Cagayan Valley, Central Visayas, Zamboanga City and Davao City are under general community quarantine (GCQ) from June 1 to 15.

All other areas in the country are placed under modified GCQ.

Under the GCQ guidelines, restrictions on people’s movement, public transportation and the operations of industries have been relaxed although it remains limited, provided that minimum health standards set by the government are strictly observed.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said among the factors that the IATF will look into when drafting its recommendation is the case doubling rate in the country.

He added that the data of Metro Manila and Cebu City will particularly be analyzed amid continuing increase in coronavirus infections.

“Tinitingnan po natin ang case-doubling rate, tinitingnan po natin ang critical care capacity. Kapag po ganyang tumataas, well, siyempre po may posibilidad na hindi tayo mag-graduate to the next phase. We have to look at the data of Metro Manila and Cebu City carefully,” Roque said.

But if the IATF recommends Metro Manila to be placed under the MGCQ, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said more industries will be allowed to reopen at 50 percent capacity.

These include industries on entertainment and kid amusement, libraries, museums, cultural centers, tourist destinations, travel agencies, tour operators, other personal care services, travel agencies, pet grooming services, internet and computer shops and other educational support establishments.

People aged 21 and below living in MGCQ areas will still be urged to remain at home but they will be allowed to do fitness and sports activities and visit leisure-related establishments.

“May mga exemption po at isa po sa exemption under MGCQ, ma-allow na po sila to exercise, do those activities na inaallow naman po under MGCQ. Ibig sabihin, mapapayagan din po silang mag-exercise sa labas at gawin ang sports activities na kailangang gawin at bisitahin ang pwede nang bisitahin,” DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said.

Authorities, however, stressed that “sabong” and horse racing activities remain prohibited in the country.

“Hindi pa rin po pinayagan ang horse racing, ang sabong, pinagbabawal pa rin po,” Roque said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Phl administers close to 7M anti-COVID vaccine doses

Maris Federez   •   June 16, 2021

The Philippines has already administered close to seven million doses of anti-COVID-19 vaccines, according to the  Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of  Emerging  Infectious Diseases (IATF) on Wednesday, June 16.

The IATF said that as of 6 pm on June 13, a total of 6,948,549 doses have already been administered.

Of this, 5,068,855 are 1st doses, and 1,879,694 are 2nd doses. This covers almost 2 million people that have been given full protection of the anti-COVID-19 vaccines.

The government is urging those who belong to priority groups A1 to A4 “to register, get vaccinated, and complete the required number of doses as scheduled.”

Vaccinated individuals are also urged to continue practicing the minimum public health standards as they may still get infected with COVID-19 and infect other people.

Duterte extends GCQ with some restrictions in NCR, Bulacan

Maris Federez   •   June 14, 2021

 MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the extension of the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) classification of the National Capital Region and Bulacan from June 16 to June 30, 2021.

The president made the announcement during his pre-recorded Talk to the Nation which was aired on Monday night (June 14).

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, in a statement, said the extension of GCQ in Metro Manila and Bulacan comes with some restrictions.

Roque also said that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) also placed the provinces of Laguna, Cavite, and Rizal in Region 4-A under GCQ with heightened restrictions from June 16 to June 30.

Other areas under GCQ are Baguio City, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Abra, and Benguet in the Cordillera Administrative Region; Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, and Quirino in Region 2; Batangas and Quezon in Region 4-A; Iligan City in Region 10; Davao del Norte in Region 11; General Santos City, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, Cotabato, and South Cotabato in Region 12; and Lanao del Sur and Cotabato City in BARMM, the statement said.

Meanwhile, areas that shall be placed under the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) from June 16 to June 30 are the City of Santiago and Cagayan in Region 2; Apayao and Ifugao in the Cordillera Administrative Region; Bataan in Region 3; Lucena City in Region4-A; Puerto Princesa in Region 4-B; Naga City in Region 5; and Iloilo City and Iloilo in Region 6.

Other areas under MECQ are Negros Oriental in Region 7; Zamboanga City, Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Sur, and Zamboanga del Norte in Region 9; Cagayan de Oro City in Region 10; Davao City in Region 11; and Butuan City, Agusan del Sur, Dinagat Islands, and Surigao del Sur in CARAGA.

According to the palace official, the rest of the country shall be placed under Modified General Community Quarantine on the aforementioned dates.

“On another matter, the President approved the extension of travel restrictions imposed upon India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, United Arab Emirates, and Oman starting June 16 to June 30, 2021,” Roque said.

 

Various groups divided on relaxing quarantine restrictions in NCR Plus 8

Marje Pelayo   •   June 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Several groups are not in full agreement on the proposed relaxation of quarantine restrictions in Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, Metro Davao, and the provinces of Bulacan, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Pampanga, and Rizal or the NCR Plus 8.

For its part, labor group ALU-TUCP said downgrading quarantine classifications would be favorable as it would resume office and on-site works.

However, the group said the implementation of health and safety protocol must be strictly observed and maintained in order to curb the spread of COVID-19.

“Nangangamba kami ng baka bumalik na uli tayo doon sa napakaraming mga kababayan natin at nakaparaming bilang ng mga manggagawa ang mahawa sa coronavirus disease,” said ALU-TUCP Spokesperson Alan Tanjusay.

“Nakita natin doon sa mga bus terminal halimbawa sunod-sunod ang mga araw na ang daming mga manggagawa ang nakapila. Naba-violate ang mga safety protocols natin,” he added.

Meanwhile, employers are concerned about how prepared the government is should the COVID-19 cases surge, specifically in terms of mass testing, isolation, and treatment of patients. If that happened, they said hospitals would be overwhelmed anew.

“Kung magluluwag at babalik na naman dito at maghahabol na naman sila, iyon ang problema. Sayang ang pagluluwag at delikado pagka ganun,” argued Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr, president of Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP).

“Pero kami talagang gusto namin tuloy- tuloy ang pagluwag dahil hirap na hirap na ating ekonomiya at ang ating mga kababayan,” he added.

Private hospitals are still struggling with the current number of COVID-19 patients.

The Private Hospitals Association Philippines (PHAPI) said it could agree with the easing of quarantine restrictions provided that the minimum health standards are strictly imposed.

“Halos wala na masyado na talagang critical occupancy, bumabalik na tayo doon sa dati. Medyo tumataas pa rin nang konti doon sa below high risk, “ said Dr. Jose Rene De Grano, PHAPI President.

The Department of Health (DOH), on the other hand, said they have no records at present of any hospital having a high utilization rate of its intensive care unit (ICU).

“Pero sa ngayon nakikita natin iyong ating mga ospital sa Metro manila ay manageable lahat at wala pang risk level na mataas at lahat ay nakapag- decongest na from the last surge that we’ve had,” noted Health Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire.

Former Special Adviser of the National Task Force against COVID-19 Dr. Tony Leachon, in the meantime, suggested that the government should observe the situation on the ground first before deciding on relaxing restrictions.

He noted that COVID-19 cases in NCR Plus are still high and other regions like Western Visayas, Davao and Zamboanga are also experiencing the spike.

It would be better, he said, to heighten border controls in between cities or regions to curb COVID transmissions.

“Kung luluwag tayo sa Maynila yun na nga lang inaasahan natin tapos babagsak din together with the other Western Visayas and Mindanao areas, ang hirap naman Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao meron kang three epicenters,” Leachon explained.

Experts from the OCTA Research Group also support the extension of a much stricter quarantine restriction in the NCR Plus 8 area.

“In the NCR, the GCQ must continue with stricter monitoring and compliance to minimum public health standards. Given the downward trends, further calibrated easing of restrictions for certain businesses can be considered provided these establishments comply with health and safety protocols of the government,” the group said in a statement.

“Further, the national government needs to accelerate implementation of the NCR plus vaccination plan,” it said. -MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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