How we’re to win the war against COVID-19
GO NEGOSYO PILIPINAS ANGAT LAHAT! - Joey Concepcion (The Philippine Star) - April 9, 2020 - 12:00am

Last Tuesday, President Duterte approved the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to extend the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine until the end of April.

The President called the extension of the lockdown at the right time. What I suggest is that after implementing three ‘resets’ (three cycles of a 14-day quarantine at home), we should then consider implementing localized barangay-level quarantines as required.

With the lockdown extension and barangay quarantines in effect, the military and police can focus on the infected areas. Movement in such areas will be more regulated. Barangay data is more granular, so we can use this crucial information to help the government make more informed decisions and quickly provide solutions when and where needed.

Public and private sectors could proceed with the random testing of barangay residents to measure the level of risk within a community. The data gathered will help in developing more effective and comprehensive mitigation and response plans.

Ahead of the quarantine extension approval, we held a consultative meeting with both the private sector and NEDA last April 5, which was attended by NEDA Sec. Ernesto Pernia, Trade Sec. Ramon Lopez, and heads of conglomerates and business chambers. We discussed recommendations to further help the targeted areas.

To date, we have been on quarantine for almost three weeks. Despite the negative economic impact, we are left with no choice but to ensure that this lockdown becomes successful and worthwhile. We strongly support the government in the extension of the Luzon lockdown for another two weeks to avoid relapse, despite the potential economic consequences.

The two-week extension of the lockdown can be used to prepare for the implementation of barangay quarantines and establish proper guidelines. The community lockdown at the barangay level will boost morale and promote a stronger sense of engagement or “bayanihan,” and encourage citizens to take part in the national action plan.

We recommend that mayors and barangay captains be empowered to implement a lockdown in their affected areas, while following simple and easy-to-follow guidelines setup by the National Task Force (NTF). The NTF will provide the criteria of when a targeted area should be put under lockdown and for how long. The barangay quarantine approach, if successful, could be used continuously until a cure is found.

There is still a lot of risk for relapse, so it would be wise not to prematurely lift the lockdown and ensure affected areas are quarantined, while still balancing the need to recover the economy.

We believe that monitoring and mapping the spread of the virus through the assistance of mass testing will help us develop better mitigation plans to contain COVID-19 and help redirect our efforts to caring for to the sick. This will also help us identify key areas where business and commerce can be revived. We hope that Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana, IATF General Carlito Galvez Jr., and Interior Sec. Eduardo Año will consider this.

The next step to reviving the economy  is to rebuild public confidence, reassuring all Filipinos that once the lockdown has been lifted, it is safe to go out, ride public transportation, go to the malls, and visit their family and friends. Rest assured both private and public sectors are working hard to keep the virus under control so business can go back to usual.

Today, our challenge is facing the virus. Soon our challenge will be recovery.  The time to begin both short- and long-term planning is now. We definitely can’t let our guards down, because the virus will remain. We should be vigilant and continue to follow guidance from health professionals, especially with social distancing and the wearing of face masks.

COVID-19 DUTERTE INTER-AGENCY TASK FORCE
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