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DND, DILG take over implementation of quarantine

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
DND, DILG take over implementation of quarantine
The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) will now serve chiefly as policymaking body while National Task Force COVID-19 will act as operational command to be led by the defense secretary. The National Incident Command will take charge of the day-to-day concerns and operations in the fight against the disease.
Edd Gumban / File

MANILA, Philippines — The defense and interior departments have been tasked to lead the implementation of the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine to strengthen government’s efforts to arrest the further spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) will now serve chiefly as policymaking body while National Task Force COVID-19 will act as operational command to be led by the defense secretary. The National Incident Command will take charge of the day-to-day concerns and operations in the fight against the disease.

The change is in line with a National Action Plan, which aims to streamline measures designed to combat the pandemic.

“The Department of National Defense (DND) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), along with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police, are now ramping up the implementation of the National Action Plan or NAP, as we speak, to reinforce the efforts of the Department of Health in containing COVID-19,” President Duterte said in a televised public address late Tuesday.

“Reports on our progress on the National Action Plan will be given regularly by the Secretary of National Defense, serving as the National Action Plan chair with the Secretary of the Interior and Local Government as vice chair,” he added.

Resolution No. 15 issued yesterday by the IATF for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases said the action plan seeks to adopt measure that would provide clear, accurate and timely information to support the operations against COVID-19.

It also aims to adopt measures to contain and mitigate the spread of the virus to reduce new cases and facilitate the detection, identification and isolation for COVID-19 carriers. ?

The action plan likewise requires agencies to continuously sustain COVID-19-related measures in terms of human resource, logistics and finance and to mitigate the impact of the disease to social, economic and personal security of Filipinos.

Agencies have also provisionally adopted the proposed National Task Force COVID-19 organizational structure in the action plan “to lessen the burden on the IATF and to streamline and decentralize the operations in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) has been tasked to identify agencies that would belong to the new units of the proposed national task force.

The task force will have task groups on response operations to be led by the health department; resource management and logistics and strategic communications.

Agencies identified by the NDRRMC shall designate an official with the rank of undersecretary or assistant secretary to their assigned clusters. The clusters will report directly to IATF to ensure proper coordination.

Duterte wants agencies to ensure the immediate delivery of medical supplies to health workers treating patients infected with COVID-19 following concerns over the depleting supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) in some hospitals.

In a public address aired hours after Congress granted him additional powers to fight COVID-19, Duterte directed officials to cut red tape, noting that time should not be wasted as the nation is facing a health crisis.

“I also call on relevant agencies to ensure the speedy delivery of basic medical supplies and equipment to health facilities. From the approval, importation and to the delivery, everything must go smoothly to make sure that we do not waste time,” the President said.

There were reports that some hospitals are running out of PPEs, making health workers vulnerable to the infection.

Various groups have appealed for medical supplies, saying it would enable health workers to continue serving patients. At least five Filipino doctors have died while attending to COVID-19 patients.

The Office of the Vice President (OVP) has distributed over 20,000 personal protective equipment (PPEs) to 62 hospitals and communities across Metro Manila as cases of coronavirus continued to rise in the country.

As of Tuesday night, the OVP has raised P28.8 million for the health workers fighting the disease.

“These funds are intended for the purchase of 64,367 PPEs for 4,291 frontliners,” Vice President Leni Robredo said in her official Facebook page.

Robredo said those who would like to donate may visit the link bit.ly/forCOVID19frontliners.

They may also send donations via PayMaya bit.ly/KNxPaymaya and Lazada: bit.ly/KNxLazada.

Robredo urged those who are in need of PPE sets to call +63 998 596 8820 or send a request to angatbuhay@gmail.com.

Some social media posts showed photos of volunteers and medical frontliners using improvised PPEs to protect themselves from COVID-19.

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) deployed its air assets to airlift thousands of medical supplies for the use of health workers.

On Tuesday, a C-130 cargo plane airlifted boxes of medical supplies and equipment from the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.

The cargo included donated items like 15,000 pieces of medical protective suits; 40,000 pieces of medical gloves; 5,184 pieces of disposable goggles; 1,000 pieces of infrared thermometers and 368,600 pieces of protective masks.

Also airlifted were 5,000 pieces of disposable shoe covers; 10,050 pieces of diagnostic kits; one set of fully automated nucleic acid extraction system and one piece of slan 96p time PCR.

The Armed Force of the Philippines Medical Center, Veterans’ Memorial Medical Center and Quezon Institute should be converted into COVID-19 centers to address the already full capacity of three private hospitals like St. Luke’s Medical Center, Makati Medical Center and The Medical City, according to Sen. Francis Pangilinan.

Pangilinan said at present many hospitals are in full capacity and the number of COVID-19 patients continues to increase, so measures should be adopted to ensure health protocols are followed.

He suggested that AFP Medical Center, Veterans and Quezon Institute should also attend not only to COVID-19 cases but also patients undergoing dialysis, emergency cases and cancer patients.

He said public spaces like Rizal Memorial, Ultra and Philippine International Convention Center should be used as makeshift isolation centers for patients with mild symptoms.

Businesses could expect the movement of cargo to normalize this week amid improved coordination of government agencies, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said.

Businesses including manufacturers, retailers and distributors of goods had difficulties getting inputs or supplies last week as trucks carrying essential food and non-food materials were not being allowed to get through checkpoints after Luzon was placed under an enhanced community quarantine to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Among businesses that had a hard time getting raw materials through checkpoints last week were members of the Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc.

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has mobilized its personnel with medical background to help the agency’s frontline officers at the airports avoid getting infected by COVID-19.?BI Commissioner Jaime Morente issued last Monday a directive assigning 18 immigration officers, all of whom are registered/licensed nurses, to constitute an ad hoc medical team that will spearhead the bureau’s fight against COVID-19 at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).?The team members were directed to report to the BI medical section, headed by Dr. Marites Ambray, for instructions and told to be ready to respond to any situation requiring medical attention that may occur while they are on duty.?Morente said the move is in compliance with the ongoing enhanced community quarantine program that the government has implemented in Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon. – With Helen Flores, Michael Punongbayan, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Rudy Santos, Louella Desiderio

COVID-19 DND INTER-AGENCY TASK FORCE
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