IATF to meet Saturday for new quarantine classification of NCR Plus – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   April 9, 2021   •   353

MANILA, Philippines – The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) is set to meet on Saturday, April 10 to discuss the new quarantine classification that will be imposed over Metro Manila and four other provinces next week, Malacañang said.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the announcement in a statement issued after a Cabinet meeting on Thursday.

Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, and Laguna – collectively called NCR Plus – have been placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) until April 11 in a bid to control the surge in COVID-19 cases.

Roque, in an online press briefing on Thursday, said the decision on whether to extend or lift the ECQ in the NCR Plus would depend on data about the healthcare utilization rate and the incidence rate of COVID-19 infections.

“Maaari naman pong ma-relax ang kasalukuyang community quarantine classification. Nakasalalay po ito sa mga indicators na ating nabanggit,” Roque said.

In the same briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said they are studying the data on the COVID-19 situation in the country and whether the two-week ECQ period have been effective in slowing down the virus transmission.

“Maaari lamang po tayong makapag-shift sa mababang quarantine classification katulad ng MECQ kung makikita na po nating mas umaayos na po ang ating health system at mayroon na po tayong agarang detection at isolation,” Vergeire said.

Should the NCR Plus be placed under the less restrictive modified ECQ (MECQ), more industries will be permitted to operate and limited mass gatherings of up to 10 persons will be allowed.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier placed some areas under MECQ and general community quarantine (GCQ) for the whole month of April.

Quirino Province will be under MECQ from April 1 to 15 while Santiago City in Isabela will be under MECQ from April 1 to 30.

The areas of Cordillera Administrative Region, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Batangas, Tacloban City, Iligan City Davao City, and Lanao del Sur are under GCQ until April 30.

The rest of the country was placed under modified GCQ. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

OCTA urges PH gov’t not to lift MECQ in NCR+ just yet

Robie de Guzman   •   April 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – COVID-19 restrictions being enforced in the National Capital Region (NCR) and nearby provinces should not be eased yet despite the declining spread of the viral respiratory disease, the OCTA Research Group said Friday.

OCTA Research Fellow Nicanor Austriaco said the NCR’s current reproduction number is at 0.98 from April 16 to 22.

He stressed that the less than one reproduction number should be sustained for several weeks before lifting the community quarantine restrictions.

“You have to sustain the R below one for at least several weeks, and this will take a careful planning with the length of the MECQ,” Austriaco said in an online briefing.

“We urge the national government, as one possible benchmark for changing quarantine levels, is not to exit the MECQ until at least the R is less than .9 in a sustained manner,” he added.

OCTA noted that the average daily cases in the NCR in the past seven days are now at 4,200 compared to 5,200 cases recorded two weeks ago.

However, Austriaco said this is still “somewhat unstable” because not all local government units in the NCR have reported decreasing cases.

“You always have the possibilities that as some LGUs recover, there will be an outbreak in one LGU that will spill over to the adjacent LGUs,” he said.

“We are looking for a consistent pattern of decrease throughout all the 17 LGUs for a significant period of time before we know we have successfully passed through the surge,” he added.

Austriaco also emphasized that hospitals also need to be decongested before restrictions can be further eased.

“How fast we decongest our hospitals depends upon he sustained reproduction number that we are able to maintain in the next few weeks,” he said.

The NCR and four provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, and Laguna have been placed under modified enhanced community quarantine until April 30.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said that the government is not yet satisfied with the current decline in cases.

It also remains unclear on whether the MECQ in the NCR Plus will be lifted or extended after April 30 as the Inter-Agency Task Force is still evaluating the current COVID-19 situation in the country before it submits a recommendation to President Rodrigo Duterte. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

PhilHealth’s debit-credit payment method now applies to all COVID-19 high, critical risk areas – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   April 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The government’s task force for COVID-19 response has approved the application of Philippine Health Insurance Corp.’s (PhilHealth) debit-credit payment method (DCPM) in areas with high-risk and critical COVID-19 situation nationwide, Malacañang said Friday.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) approved the policy on Thursday, April 22.

Roque said the move was made as high-risk and critical risk areas will also be prioritized in the COVID-19 vaccine allocation, human health resource deployment, and other relevant COVID-19 response measures, as applicable.

Prior to the IATF’s order, PhilHealth, under its Circular 2021-0004, provides for the use of payment method to facilitate the settlement of accounts payable to healthcare facilities during the State of Public Health Emergency brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

PhilHealth initially applied DCPM only to areas identified by the IATF, particularly in the National Capital Region, Batangas, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Pampanga, and Rizal.

Roque said the IATF likewise directed the National Task Force (NTF) Task Group Treat, through the One COVID Referral System, to utilize the Feasibility Analysis of Syndromic Surveillance Using Spatio-Temporal Epidemiological Modeler for Early Detection of Diseases (FASSSTER) projections on target beds and human resources for health.

“These projections shall identify health capacity needs required to lower health care and intensive care unit (ICU) utilization rates,” he said.

“The NTF shall also review and implement the recommended Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Treat- Reintegrate strategies to reduce the health utilization rates and augment the needs of human resources for health,” he added.

Roque said that the task group will also identify target additional beds on a weekly basis that will substantially reduce health care and ICU utilization rates, determine and list specific health facilities and infrastructure to contribute these additional beds, and operationalize how these beds become functional with adequate human resources for health and equipment.

The Palace official earlier said that the government is eyeing to add 200 more ICU beds for COVID-19 patients.

“The NTF shall further engage the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority to develop training and instructional materials of available COVID-19 response frameworks to enhance the enforcement of COVID-19 strategies at the barangay level,” Roque said.

The said materials shall be cascaded to the barangay, purok, sitio, and zone levels through the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the regional counterparts of the NTF for immediate and intensified implementation through barangay empowerment, he added.

MECQ sa NCR+ ‘di pa tiyak kung palalawigin o luluwagan na — Malakanyang

Robie de Guzman   •   April 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Hindi pa umano matitiyak sa ngayon kung maaari nang luwagan o kaya’y pananatilihin pa ang ipinaiiral na modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) sa National Capital Region (NCR) at mga kalapit na lalawigan ng Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, at Laguna, o ang tinatawag na NCR Plus.

Ayon kay Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, kailangan pang pag-aralan nang maigi ang sitwasyon ng COVID-19 sa mga nasabing lugar kahit pa bumababa na ang naitatalang kaso ng impeksyon sa mga nakalipas na araw.

Noong Huwebes, 8,767 ang naitalang bagong kaso ng COVID-19 sa bansa, habang sa mga nakalipas na araw ay hindi na rin umaabot sa 10,000 ang mga napapaulat na nahahawa ng COVID-19.

Ayon kay Roque, hindi pa rin satisfied ang pamahalaan sa bilang na ito at kailangan pa itong masusing pag-aralan.

“Sa ngayon po, I think premature na mag-speculate kung ano magiging classification natin. Ang importante po palagi, tingnan iyong daily attack rate, 2-week average attack rate at saka iyong healthcare utilization rate,” ang pahayag ng opisyal.

Binigyang-diin naman ni Testing Czar Vince Dizon na kailangang bigyan ng prayoridad ang pagpapalakas sa kapasidad ng intensive care units (ICU) para sa COVID-19 sa NCR Plus.

Kailangan ding dagdagan ang bilang ng healthcare professionals na mag-aasikaso sa mga pasyente.

“Nag-commit din po ang ating mga ospital ng 176 ICU beds dito sa NCR Plus at mahigit isanlibong ward beds sa kaniya-kaniyang mga ospital,” ani Dizon.

Batay sa pinakahuling ulat, nasa 80 porsiyento na ang okupadong ICU beds sa mga ospital sa Metro Manila.

Nakatakda namang magpulong sa Linggo ang mga alkalde ng Metro Manila para talakayin ang magiging rekomendasyon kaugnay ng ipatutupad na community quarantine classification sa NCR pagkatapos ng April 30. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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