No plans yet for expansion of enhanced community quarantine to Visayas, Mindanao — IATF

Marje Pelayo   •   March 26, 2020   •   508

MANILA, Philippines – The national government has enhanced the implementation of community quarantine from Metro Manila to the entire island of Luzon after the region recorded majority of the country’s COVID-19 cases.

A number of cases have also been detected outside of Luzon which raises the possible extension of enhanced community quarantine to the Visayas and Mindanao.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) clarified, however, they see no reason to recommend such action though several local government units (LGUs) in these major islands are implementing community quarantine in consultation with the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) based on the number of COVID-19 cases in their localities.

“Sa ngayon, hindi pa naman kailangang buong Visayas at Mindanao para tuloy-tuloy pa rin naman ang kanilang normal na buhay lalo ang nasa trabaho at food production, (For now, the inclusion of Visayas and Mindanao is not necessary, so that they can continue with their normal lives especially those in food production),” explained DILG Secretary Eduardo Año.

“But if there is a necessity and depending on the development, the IATF will assess that,” the official said.

Meanwhile, Año believes that the enhanced community quarantine will be shortened or lifted depending on the cooperation of various sectors in the implementation of government guidelines in their areas.

One of these is the strict observation and practice of physical distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine is until April 13 but it can be lifted or extended depending on the gravity of the COVID-19 crisis. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte ‘inclined to extend’ Luzon lockdown to April 30

Marje Pelayo   •   April 7, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Luzon residents may have to endure two more weeks at home as President Rodrigo Duterte considers extending the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

In his public address on Monday evening (April 6), the President asked the public for more patience and understanding and to be more cooperative with the national government in the face of a health crisis brought about by the deadly coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“We are inclined to extend the lockdown up to April 30,” the Chief Executive announced.

Tingnan natin after that [Let’s see after that]. In the meantime, double time kami,” he added.

The President, likewise, reiterated his call for the public to stay at home as the solution to this global pandemic is simply to “not get infected.”

He noted the sad reality of COVID-19 patients passing without having a funeral service as their remains go straight to cremation.

Duterte admitted that even the national government is getting ‘desperate’ as it has limited resources to distribute to millions of Filipinos affected by the crisis.

The President added that the P275-B budget that Congress authorized him to spend is not enough and would be gone in two months.

Thus, he asked the Department of Finance to find ways to generate revenues.

“We are finding ways to adjust the budget. We will prioritize the people, the stomach. If they have nothing to eat, a human being can become violent,” he added.

He appealed to those who have more to give to those in need and asked the Filipino people to pray for the country and the world in the face of this global pandemic.

“I am calling on the nation to come together and pay tribute to the indomitable spirit of the Filipino and unite in one prayer to God to fight our common enemy,” he concluded. MNP (with input from Rosalie Coz)

Senator Binay asks IATF to extend help to families of COVID-19 fatalities

Robie de Guzman   •   April 6, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Nancy Binay on Monday called on the government to establish protocols in handling fatalities related to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), to assist the families of those who died from the disease, and to protect them from crematoriums that may take advantage of the situation.

In a statement, Binay said the government’s Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) should address the “lack of clear protocol” in handling coronavirus-related fatalities, including the management, storage, cremation of the cadaver, as well as the giving of assistance to families.

“It may sound morbid, pero kailangan din i-address ng IATF yung mga hinaharap na problema ng mga pamilyang namatayan dahil sa COVID-19,” she said in a statement.

She said families of those who died from the virus are having a hard time securing death certificates because some local government units (LGU) do not know how to handle patients if they died inside their home.

She added that some LGUs also do not know how to properly handle the bodies which can no longer be accommodated in mortuary freezers and crematoriums.

“Sa ngayon pa lang, sana iresolba na natin ito. Ano ang pwede nating magawang ayuda sa mga pamilya?” she said.

“Paano kung walang-wala? Paano ang pambayad sa punerarya para sa cremation? Sino ang mag-aasikaso ng mga requirement? Paano na kung wala na gustong tumanggap na crematorium?” she added.

The lawmaker also revealed that she received reports that some private crematoriums are asking for P100,000 for the cremation of the remains of COVID-19 fatality.

“Sa nangyayari sa buong mundo ngayon, it’s never a good time to die. Malungkot at wala kang karamay. Di ka makapagpaalam man lang sa iyong mga mahal sa buhay. Wala kang last rites, or proper burial. Kaya nakakagalit yung meron kang mababalitaang mga nananamantala para pagkakitaan ang pamilyang namatayan,” Binay said.

Under the DSWD Revised Guidelines on Assistance to Individual in Crisis Situations for burial assistance, the department will shoulder part of the funeral cost and the family can receive up to P10,000 assistance even if they do not submit a case study report.

According to Binay, there are only 60 crematoriums operating nationwide as of 2020, 90% of which are privately-owned, and 25 out of 60 are in Metro Manila.

Only six, which are in Manila, Pasay, Mandaluyong, QC, Dasmarinas City, and Antipolo City, are publicly-owned and are mostly operated by the local government.

Of the six, only five are operational which can only accommodate three to five cadavers a day.

IATF to discuss recommendation on ECQ lifting or extension Monday

Robie de Guzman   •   April 6, 2020

Motorists get their temperatures checked at a police checkpoint during the enhanced community quarantine

MANILA, Philippines – The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) will discuss on Monday whether to expand, extend or lift the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon to combat the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

IATF spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said they will submit a recommendation to President Rodrigo Duterte to decide on the matter before the ECQ ends on April 12.

Nograles assured that the recommendation on the Luzon-wide quarantine will be based on scientific data and five parameters approved by the IATF.

These parameters are the trends in the COVID-19 epidemiological curve including the deceleration and acceleration of cases; the capacity of the health care system such as availability of quarantine centers and testing capability; and social, economic, and security concerns.

Nograles issued the statement following calls from medical experts, business groups and several lawmakers to extend the quarantine for two more weeks to ensure the containment of the virus.

Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the president is still studying the possibility of an extension amid the increase in the cases of infections.

To date, the Philippines has 3,246 confirmed coronavirus cases with 152 fatalities and 64 total recoveries.

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