Palace disagrees with claims community quarantine is ineffective vs COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   March 30, 2020   •   458

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

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang has dismissed criticisms that the enhanced community quarantine being enforced in the whole of Luzon is not effective in stopping the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) after the country’s number of confirmed infections have passed the 1,000 mark.

In a statement issued Sunday, March 29, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the big increase in the number of COVID-19 cases is due to the availability of the supply of testing kits and the establishment of additional testing centers.

“Some quarters expressed the opinion that such increased number of COVID-19 cases shows that enhanced community quarantine or partial lockdown is ineffective in flattening the curve. We beg to disagree,” he said.

“As the manufacture and supply of testing kits become available, plus the establishment of additional COVID-19 testing centers, there are more people being tested now than before, necessarily the hitherto unknown cases of COVID-19 have surfaced hence the galloping increase in number,” he added.

Panelo said there could have been a “staggering” number of coronavirus cases if the government did not implement the enhanced community quarantine to restrict the movement of the public.

“Had the enhanced community quarantine or partial lockdown not been imposed, the number of the COVID-19 cases could have been staggering, for the simple reason that with unrestricted movement of the population, with each individual being a potential carrier, the coronavirus would have an untrammeled leap-frogging from one person to another,” he said.

As of Sunday, the Philippines has recorded a total of 1,418 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 71 deaths and 42 recoveries.

Panelo assured the public that the government is “doing everything to contain, if not permanently halt the spread of COVID-19 in the country.”

He also said that the problem in the supply of personal protective equipment has been addressed as donations from many sources have poured in, and local production is in full swing from garment manufacturers and local fashion designers.

“Medical supplies, alcohol, soap and other health items are coming in too from various donors, individuals, and private entities. The Bayanihan spirit has caught fire and everyone is chipping in a united front against this unseen deadly enemy,” Panelo said.

He also reiterated the government’s appeal for the public to strictly follow protocols on hygiene and physical and social distancing to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Luzon is under enhanced community quarantine until April 12. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Metro Manila to likely transition to GCQ after May 31 —Palace

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 28, 2020

Metro Manila has a possibility to transition to General Community Quarantine (GCQ) from Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) after May 31, according to the Malacañang.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said there is a chance that the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions might ease in Metro Manila and other parts of the country.

The Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) held a meeting on Wednesday (May 27) to determine if the MECQ should continue after May 31.

“Chances are we will, in fact, be transitioning to GCQ in Metro Manila, according to the chief implementer and the DILG [Department of the Interior and Local Government] Secretary,” Roque said in a statement.

The Metro Manila Council (MMC) is also recommending to the IATF to put the National Capital Region under GCQ.

Once Metro Manila transitioned to GCQ, Roque said public transportation will resume operations but will have limited capacity.

He also appealed to the private and public sectors to finalize their work scheme where 50% will resume in worksites and 50% will work from home.

“We are appealing to both private and public sectors to ensure at least 50-50 workforce,” he said. –AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Mandaluyong City beefs up rapid testing after COVID-19 infects 277 tricycle drivers

Marje Pelayo   •   May 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Mandaluyong City government cannot decide yet on whether or not to allow tricycle drivers to operate come June 1.

This, after 277 of the 3,115 tricycle drivers who underwent rapid testing were confirmed positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The Mandaluyong City Health Office is continuously conducting rapid tests among 7,000 tricycle drivers in the city to ensure their safety and the safety of their passengers.

Those who were infected are now under isolation in the city’s quarantine facility while waiting for the confirmatory tests using the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test.

“Nagko contact tracing pa ho kami kasi scattered po ito eh. Hindi po ito kasi by area. So mina-map out pa po namin kung saan sila marami (We are doing contact tracing because these are scattered. It is not just in one area. So we are mapping out where the most number of cases are),” said Dr. Alexander Sta, Maria of the city health office.

The LGU, meanwhile, clarified that the increase in the number of confirmed cases in the city is a result of the mass testing which allowed for the immediate tracking of COVID-19 probable patients and their prompt isolation to curb further spread.

“This is coordinated kasi meron po tayong in-charge sa buong TODA. Then before po ito ni-launch, na-meeting po ang lahat ng presidente ng kanilang mga TODA so binigyan po sila ng schedule (This is a coordinated effort. There is someone in charge of the whole TODA. Before this was launched, we held a meeting with their respective presidents and all of them were given a schedule),” Sta. Maria added.

The city government will test jeepney drivers next once the tests among tricycle drivers is completed. MNP (with reports from Vincent Arboleda)

House panel approves P1.5-T fund to create jobs amid COVID-19 pandemic

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 28, 2020

The House Defeat COVID-19 Committee has approved a bill seeking to provide a P1.5-trillion fund to create sustainable jobs amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

House Bill 6709 or the proposed “COVID-19 Unemployment Reduction Economic Stimulus (CURES) Act of 2020″ is set to fund infrastructure projects in rural areas to help curb unemployment amid the pandemic.

The CURES Act of 2020 shall also be undertaken with the “Balik Probinsya Bagong Pag-asa Program” and the immediate funding of CURES projects shall target the construction of health centers, school buildings, vocational learning centers, as well as improving fish ports and trading centers at barangay levels.

The House Bill is expected to be sponsored on Thursday (May 28) for its 2nd reading approval in the plenary on Thursday afternoon. It will have to go through a 3rd and final reading before it can hurdle the House.

Meanwhile, representatives of other government agencies such as the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) also endorsed the approval of the proposed CURES Act of 2020. –AAC

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