The Inter-agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), in its latest meeting on Thursday, July 2, approved the recommended testing strategy of the National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 and its Phase II Action Plan.
With the recent arrival of the one million PCR test kits and the 10 million test kits purchased by the Department of Budget and Management and Department of Health (DOH), the IATF approved the new recommended testing strategy to fully utilize the newly purchased testing kits.
The latest testing strategy recommends the testing of not just the symptomatics and frontliners, but also the asymptomatics from other sectors and industries, including employees of government agencies who are serving as frontliners, said Secretary Harry Roque Jr, in a media briefing on July 3.
“Ang kasama na po sa ite-test ay hindi lang ang mga symptomatic at hindi lang yung mga nagkaron ng contact sa mga mayroong COVID-19, kasama na rin po ang mga asymptomatic, at posibleng masama na rin po yung iba pang mga frontliners gaya po ng media,” said Secretary Roque.
Roque, who is the concurrent IATF Spokesperson, said that the new testing strategy has been approved in principle but will still need the actual guidelines that will be issued by the NTF and DOH before it can be fully implemented.
The expanded testing strategy is part of the Phase II of the NTF Action Plan that was also approved in the recent IATF meeting. Secretary Roque said that among the key features of the new action plan is to promote a change of people’s mindset strongly focusing on health and disease prevention.
The new action plan on COVID-19 also aims to strategically balance health and economic activities and to institutionalize the prevent-detect-isolate-treat-reintegrate strategy, as well as the zoning containment strategy.
“Ibig sabihin po, talagang bagama’t importante na protektahan pa rin natin ang ating mga sarili laban sa COVID-19, eh napatunayan naman po natin na meron ng mga pamamaraan para labanan ang COVID-19 kasama na po dyan ang pagsusuot ng face mask, ang social distancing, at ang paghuhugas ng kamay. Sasamahan din po natin yan ng granular lockdowns at saka syempre po kasama na rin dyan yung paiigtingin pa natin yung testing, tracing, isolation and treatment,” stressed Secretary Roque.
Also included in the phase two action plan is the strategy to sustain private and public partnership, and enhance risk communication and community engagement particularly on observance of health protocols.
The National Action Plan Phase II will also highlight contingency, business continuity, and sustainability plans, as well as focus on the management of Returning Overseas Filipinos, Locally Stranded Individuals, and local travelers.
Lastly, the new action plan will concentrate efforts on expanded targeted testing and contact tracing by gradually allowing travel, tourism, and non-disruption of work.
Also approved in the IATF meeting is the guidelines on health-enhancing physical activities and sports during the pandemic, as well as allowing professional athletes to do practice and conditioning, subject to the minimum public health standards. The Palace reiterates, however, that the provision is only for professional athletes for the purpose of practice and conditioning and not for those whose purpose is to play the said sports as a hobby. Conduct of non-professional, contact sports and sporting events remain prohibited.
Lastly, the IATF has approved religious gatherings in general community quarantine areas (GCQ) subject to the minimum public health standards. “At para naman po sa talagang gusto ng magsimba, pinayagan din po ang religious gatherings. Pero hanggang 10 percent lang po at ito po ay epektibo [pagkatapos ng] July 10, 2020 sa areas na GCQ. Syempre po sa areas na MGCQ patuloy yung 50 percent,” Sec. Roque said. ### OPS-PCOO