The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) has approved the recommendations of the Department of Health (DOH) on the enforcement and implementation of the minimum public health standards (MPHS) in view of the ongoing surge in COVID-19 cases.
Presidential Spokesperson and concurrent spokesperson of the IATF Secretary Harry Roque Jr presented the DOH recommendations in a press briefing that was held in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte on March 12, 2021. The recommendations include specific actions or suggestions for individuals, establishments, and local government units (LGUs) on the strict adherence to the MPHS.
“Habang dumadami po ang kaso ng COVID-19 ngayon, mas importante po na mapatupad natin itong minimum health standards para sa indibidwal, para sa mga establishments, at syempre yung pagtugon ng mga LGU sa kanilang mga katungkulan sang-ayon po dun sa CODE na ating tinatawag,” said Secretary Roque.
According to the spokesperson, recommendations for individuals include the proper wearing of face masks and face shields, increasing the frequency of handwashing, and ensuring adherence to social distancing. The recommendation also includes continuous giving of correct information on COVID-19.
On the part of establishments, it is recommended that risk mitigation strategies like engineering controls, ventilation, and contact tracing be implemented, as well as measuring standards and establishing baselines.
“Sa mga LGUs naman po, kinakailangan ipatupad yung COVID-19 Coordinated Operations to Defeat Pandemic or CODE sa pamamagitan ng pinalakas na mobilisasyon ng Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams,” Sec. Roque said.
Also included in the recommendation for LGUs is to actively look for ensure that all suspect cases undergo RT-PCR testing and be isolated within 24 hours, and that all close contacts should be traced and quarantined within the next 24 hours. Close contacts with symptoms will be isolated in a facility within 24 hours and will be tested using RT-PCR. Contact tracing is recommended to begin even among suspect cases.
“Kasama rin po dito ang pag-mo-monitor sa workplaces at iba pang closed settings tungkol sa kanilang case data at pagsunod sa minimum public health standards,” said Sec. Roque.
Lastly, the recommendations state that the proper handover to the LGUs of returning overseas Filipinos and other incoming international travelers should be ensured to make sure that there is compliance to and completion of quarantine or isolation.
Meanwhile, Secretary Roque witnessed the ceremonial vaccination rollout in the Ilocos Region where Dr. Eliezer Asuncion, hospital administrator of the Laoag City General Hospital became the first vaccinee of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Ilocos Norte. Dr. Asuncion encouraged fellow medical frontliners to take the chance with the vaccine to have themselves protected.
Renowned Filipino vaccinologist Dr. Lulu Bravo, who was a resource person in the said press briefing, also assured Filipinos that there really is nothing to be scared of and no reason to stop vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine.
National Task Force Against COVID-19 Deputy Implementer and Testing Czar Secretary Vivencio Dizon also underscored that we need enough data from our vaccination experience here in the country and from experts, as well as data from other countries where the vaccine is being rolled out before we make a decision on the matter. Sec. Dizon added that it is important that we always measure the risk against the benefits, and emphasized that as of now the vaccine has been proven effective to prevent the severe form of the disease and death by 100 percent.
Dizon is with Sec. Roque in Laoag for the ceremonial vaccination in the region, along with LGU officials, namely, Ilocos Norte Governor Matthew Marcos Manotoc, Laoag City Mayor Michael Marcos Keon, DOH-CHDI Assistant Regional Director Dr. Mar Wynn Bello, and DILG Regional Director James Fadrilan. ### OPS-PCOO