On the call of frontliners

The August 1-15 general community quarantine (GCQ) classification of Metro Manila has been a subject of debate and discussion by the members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).

The Palace understands the delicate balancing act between public health and the economic health of the nation given that Metro Manila and CALABARZON make up 67% of our economy.

The strict lockdown in Metro Manila has served its purpose, and we need to intensify other strategies. It is for this reason that the local government units (LGUs) of Metro Manila has been directed to implement a strict localized lockdown / enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in barangays where 80% of cases are located and the publication of these barangays.

Other measures that the LGUs must implement include the stringent enforcement of minimum public health standards; massive targeted testing, intensified tracing, quarantine of close contacts; strict adherence to the implementation of Oplan Kalinga for isolation of confirmed cases.

Community quarantine alone, we repeat, is an insufficient response in controlling COVID-19. We are scaling up hospital capacity by increasing allocation of COVID-dedicated beds while hiring more doctors, nurses, and medical-personnel. We are also engaging the community through risk communication, social mobilization and advocacy to observe the minimum public health standards of wearing a mask washing of hands, and keeping a physical distance. Mag-mask, hugas, iwas is our battlecry in our war against COVID-19.

We welcome comments of various stakeholders and we will include them in future IATF meetings.