On the first day of implementation of the one-week Enhanced Community Quarantine or ECQ in the National Capital Region, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal, the Palace called on the cooperation of the public to contribute in the reduction of active COVID-19 cases, which would then have an impact in the country’s healthcare capacity.
“Kailangan ang kooperasyon ng lahat para pagkatapos po ng pitong araw, eto po ang nais nating makamit: mapababa natin ang bilang ng aktibong kaso dala ng COVID-19 surge…, bumalik sa normal ang ating healthcare capacity na ngayon ay nasa critical level…, at ang pangatlong objective natin, mailigtas ang buhay ng marami,” said Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Roque Jr.
In his press briefing today, March 29, 2021, Secretary Roque said that the ECQ that took effect today is a continuation of the NCR Plus Bubble that was implemented last week, in response to the spike in cases brought about by the new variants that have been shown to be more contagious.
Dr. Alethea De Guzman, Director of the Department of Health Epidemiology Bureau, who was a resource person in the said press briefing, also called for the cooperation of everyone particularly by adhering to the Minimum Public Health Standards (MPHS), and by avoiding congregations outside the home, avoiding non-essential travel, and limiting the duration of essential activities outside to minimize the risk of transmission and exposure to the virus. Dr. de Guzman also asked for everyone’s cooperation with local government units (LGUs) especially on contact tracing and isolation.
The importance of strictly following the MPHS was likewise emphasized by Dr. Eva Maria Cutiongco-De La Paz, executive director of the National Institutes of Health, University of the Philippines-Manila, wo was also a resource person in the press briefing. Dr. De La Paz said that since the virus is transmitted by people, following the MPHS can help prevent the spread of COVID-19. She also explained that the new variants contain mutations that can increase transmissibility of the virus, while some have mutations that can escape one’s immune system, which is a cause of worry for some.
With the ECQ implementation, Sec. Roque said that there will also be intensified implementation of the Prevent, Detect, Isolate, and Treat strategy of the national government. In terms of prevention, the Cabinet official said that there will be strict implementation of the MPHS and safety protocols.
For detection, Roque said that active case finding and aggressive contact tracing will be done through house-to-house visits done by the Coordinated Operations to Defeat Pandemic or CODE Teams. While for contact tracing, Roque said that this will be further intensified with the use of the StaySafe.ph application.
“Sa testing papaigtingin natin ito. Sa ngayon ay nasa mahigit 50,000 kada araw. Ito po yung dahilan kung bakit in addition dun sa ating mga PCR test eh bumili pa po tayo ng mga 500,000 na antigen [test] to supplement,” Roque said.
In terms of treatment, the Palace official said that the operations and services offered by the One Hospital Command Center will be made known to many to help decongest big hospitals. “Sa Abril po magbubukas na rin tayo ng karagdagang mga bed capacity, kasama na po dyan ang 11-bed capacity sa Quezon Institute na mayroon pong kakayahang gumamot ng moderate at severe cases,” Roque added.
Roque also said that part of the government strategy to contain the rising cases of COVID-19 is the conduct of parallel vaccination of priority A1 to A3 groups. “Kasama ito sa ating expanded vaccination program, na tulad ng aking inanunsyo, simultaneous na po ang pagbabakuna. Kasabay ng Priority Group A1 or Healthcare workers ay pinapayagan na ang Priority Group 2 or Senior Citizens at Priority Group A3 or Population with Comorbidities,” explained Roque.
Having said that, the Cabinet official and concurrent IATF spokesperson announced the expected arrival of the one million Sinovac vaccines from China this afternoon, which was procured by the national government. In his presentation during the press briefing, Roque said that as of March 27, there are now 656, 331 medical frontliners who have been vaccinated in 2,494 sites.
Meanwhile, on assistance for individuals and families that will be affected by the one-week ECQ, Department of Budget and Management Secretary Wendel Avisado said that the fund that will be used for the assistance will be coming from unutilized balances of Bayanihan 2 since it was extended and the President was given authority to realign whatever available funds left.
On the part of LGUs, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority General Manager Jojo Garcia said that local governments are very much prepared to distribute the assistance from the national government for individuals and families that will be affected by the ECQ. ### OPS-PCOO