Pampanga to return to ECQ if spike in COVID-19 cases continues, governor warns
Aileen Cerrudo • July 8, 2020 • 309
Pampanga Governor Dennis Pineda warned of reverting the province to enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) if the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases continues to rise.
“Tumaas po ang mga kaso natin. I have no choice kung hindi ibalik sa GCQ ito o ECQ kung aabot tayo sa worst situation (Cases in our province increased. I have no choice but to revert to GCQor ECQ if the situation worsens),” he said.
After the province was placed under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) on June 15, new COVID-19 cases went up by 25. As of July 7, according to the Provincial Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit, there are 166 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Pampanga, with 100 recoveries and 16 deaths.
Only Arayat and Masantol, Pampanga remain COVID-19-free, the Pampanga governor said. He reminds residents to only leave the house if necessary.
“Hindi po sinasabi ng MGCQ na libre kayo na makipagkwentuhan sa ibang lugar (Just because it’s MGCQ, it doesn’t mean you are free to meet up in other places),” he said.
Barangay Capalangan and Sulipan in Apalit are currently under hard lockdown until July 16 due to the surge of COVID-19 cases in the area. AAC (with reports from Leslie Huidem)
MANILA, Philippines — The United States government has advised its citizens to defer any travel to the Philippines due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) situation in the country.
In a travel advisory, the US Embassy in Manila cited the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) issuance of Level 3 Travel Health Notice due to the high risk of COVID-19 transmission in the country that may affect US nationals.
The Embassy noted that should any US citizens fall sick in the Philippines, their health might get compromised due to limited resources and medical facilities.
Apart from the ongoing pandemic, the US government also warned its nationals against the current security concerns in the Philippines.
“Please reconsider traveling to the Philippines due to COVID-19. Additionally, exercise increased caution in the Philippines due to crime, terrorism, civil unrest, a measles outbreak, and kidnapping. Some areas have increased risk,” the Embassy concluded.
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) believes that the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) needs to be extended for two more weeks for the government to assess its effectiveness in containing the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) transmission.
According to DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, it is still early to conclude if quarantine restrictions could be lifted or extended in areas under MECQ as they have many factors to consider before they can decide on what could happen after the two-week MECQ.
“Hindi natin masasabi pa sa ngayon kung ano na talaga ang nangyayari [We cannot tell what will happen as of yet],” Vergeire said.
“We will see the effect maybe three weeks to one month kasi may 14 days incubation period. May nadagdag ba? Nakahinga ba ang ating health system dito sa two weeks na nakapag- recalibrate tayo [We will see the effect maybe three weeks to one month given the 14-days incubation period. Did the number increase? Was our health system able to breathe in these two weeks that we were able to recalibrate]?” she added.
Vergeire said, for now, they cannot really tell if the National Capital Region (NCR) can be reverted to general community quarantine (GCQ).
Meanwhile, experts are still studying the rate of COVID-19 cases in the country and the current capacity of hospitals.
Usec. Vergeire also noted the importance of active participation of local government units (LGU) to curb the spread of COVID-19 in communities, especially in clustered barangays in the NCR.
“Hirap pa tayo magbigay sa ngayon [We cannot conclude yet at the moment]. It is not just the cases that we are looking for during assessment. Tingnan din natin capacity ng health system [We should also look at the capacity of our health system],” Vergeire noted.
The UP OCTA Research group, on the other hand, said their case projection has slowed down because of the government-imposed MECQ.
From 200,000, their case projection lowered to about 170,000 to 190,000 cases.
According to Dr. Guido David, the COVID-19 R-Naught or rate of transmission has dropped since the implementation of MECQ when most of the people are confined in their homes.
The group believes that if the MECQ is further extended, the Philippines might achieve the flattening of the curve.
“It’s very possible even by end of August pwede nang ma- flatten ang curve, pero [the curve can be flattened but] like I said, flattening of the curve at the end hindi ibig sabihin katapusan na ito [doesn’t mean it’s over],” David said.
“Hopefully, kapag nag- flatten ang curve maybe we can already sustain it kapag nag- GCQ na tayo [Hopefully, when the curve is finally flattened, we can already sustain it once we shift to GCQ],” he added.
Dr. David noted that although the community quarantine has been an enormous help in containing the virus, the most important still is the overall effort and collaboration of the public and those who enforce the minimum health protocols, especially the wearing of face masks.
The DOH, meanwhile, advised the public particularly those with elderly family members and immunocompromised individuals to always wear masks even inside the house and maintain social distancing to curb COVID-19 transmission. –MNP (with details from Aiko Miguel)
Amid requests for extension of the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), Malacañang said it is up to the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID) to decide if an extension is necessary.
In a statement on Monday (August 10), Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said a balance between health and the country’s economy is needed while fighting against the pandemic.
“On the suggestion to make the MECQ effective for one month, this is a decision that has to be made by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID). It entails a delicate balancing of protecting and saving people’s health to protecting and saving the economic health of the nation,” Roque said.
Former Special Adviser to National Task Force Against Covid-19 Dr. Anthory Leachon said that in order to flatten the curve, MECQ in NCR and other provinces should be extended to one month.
“Kung talagang MECQ ang gusto nila, isagad nila ng isang buwan, tapos ibuild-up na iyong healthcare capacity. Magpa-flatten tayo ng curve, (If they really want MECQ, they should extend it for a month then build up healthcare capacity. We might flatten the curve),” Leachon said in a statement.
Meanwhile, several members of the IATF and Cabinet members will fly to Davao City for a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte. AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)
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