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Doctors’ group urge gov’t to reimpose ECQ

August 1, 2020

The Philippine College of Physicians on Saturday urged the government to return Metro Manila to the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).

''We have witnessed a consistent rise in the number of infections and this, according to other scenarios, prompts us to act fast,'' said its president Mario Panaligan in a letter to President Rodrigo Duterte.

''We understand that imposing an enhanced community quarantine is a complex decision. Though health may be just one dimension, let us remember that we need healthy people to reinvigorate the economy,'' he said.

Panaligan cited recent announcements of the temporary closure of the Ospital ng Maynila and the Dr. Fabella Memorial Hospital due to the ''increasing number of hospital workers confirmed to be COVID positive and their need to decongest due to the overwhelming number of patients being administered.''

He said health workers are falling ill as they take care of patients.

''We are waging a losing battle against COVID-19, and we need to draw up a consolidated, definitive plan of action. Hence, we as your healthcare frontliners call upon our national government to return Mega Manila to Enhanced Community quarantine (ECQ) for a period of two weeks from August 1 to 15,'' said Panaligan.

Panaligan said the two-week ECO will be used as ''time out'' to refine the country's pandemic control.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, in a statement, said ''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 percent of our economy,'' said Roque.

Roque said the strict lockdown in Metro Manila,which began on March 17 and was lifted June 1,  ''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 percent of cases are located and the publication of these barangays,'' he said.

He said  LGUs must implement 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.

Roque said ''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.'' he said.

Roque said comments of various stakeholders are welcome and this will be included in future IATF meetings. DMS