President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has immediately approved the recommendation to escalate both Iloilo Province and Iloilo City to Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) until July 31, 2021 to contain the possible spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19 and to contain surge in cases in the said areas, according to Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque Jr.
According to the Department of Health (DOH), the recommendation to escalate Iloilo and Iloilo City to ECQ classification is partly because both areas serve as gateways for Antique, where two cases of the Delta variant were detected. Because of this and to contain the possible spread of the Delta variant in Region 6, experts have recommended to escalate the said areas to ECQ.
“Mabilis ang aksyon ng Presidente noong nagkaroon ng direktang impormasyon ang DOH at ang National Task Force (NTF) na ipasailalim po ang probinsya ng Iloilo at ang syudad ng Iloilo, kasama ang CDO (Cagayan de Oro) at ang Gingoog under ECQ,” said Secretary Roque in a press briefing held in Davao on July 19, 2021.
The Palace official said that the President relies on the opinion of experts of the DOH and the NTF, and will not hesitate to increase community quarantine classifications if there are grounds to do so.
“Ang hinihiling lang po ng Presidente, lalong-lalo na sa lokal na pamahalaan ay ang kanilang kooperasyon. Hindi naman po tayo mag-iimpose ng ECQ kung wala pong dahilan,” said Secretary Roque.
In fact, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in the same press briefing, that even before the Delta variant was detected, Iloilo City and Iloilo Province have been recommended to be placed under ECQ because of the continuing trend of increasing two-week growth rate and average daily attack rate, which are the primary parameters of the Inter-Agency Task Force’s community quarantine classifications.
Aside from that, Usec Vergeire said that health care utilization rate and ICU utilization remain to be at high risk and nearing critical risk for both areas, and even with the implementation of ECQ for the past weeks already, no improvements in parameters have been seen for both areas.
Vergeire added that based on the latest genome sequencing results, it was found that many cases of the Alpha and Beta variants were detected in Iloilo City and Iloilo Province, which was also a factor for the escalation in community quarantine classification.
On the part of the provincial government, Governor Arthur Defensor of Iloilo said that the first step that they made is to significantly increase the capacity of tertiary hospitals to be able to attend to severe and critical cases. Governor Defensor added that other health facilities in the province, including the provincial Ligtas COVID Center, have been prepared as step-down facilities.
Defensor assured that the provincial government will be imposing stricter community quarantine measures to reduce the movement of people in Region 6, in case the Delta variant is already in other neighboring provinces.
Meanwhile, DOH Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega assured that aside from increasing hospital capacity and resources, especially in areas experiencing COVID-19 case surges, the DOH is also strengthening hospital staffing through deployment from other agencies and emergency hiring being done by the Health Department.
On another matter, Sec. Roque congratulated the cities of Pasig and Las Piñas for having achieved 100 percent vaccination of its eligible senior population. According to the July 18, 2021 report of the National COVID-19 Vaccination Operations Center and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, Pasig City has vaccinated all 45,158 of its eligible senior population, while all of Las Piñas City’s 38,615 eligible seniors have been jabbed with a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Roque added that as of July 18, 2021 data from the National COVID-19 Vaccination Dashboard, more than 15 million or 15,096,261 vaccine doses have been administered nationwide. He added that there are now 4,708,073 Filipinos who have completed two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. ### OPS-PCOO