Duterte awaits IATF report on GCQ
President Duterte is waiting for the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
Noel Celis/AFP

Duterte awaits IATF report on GCQ

Emmanuel Tupas, Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - June 11, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Should the general community quarantine (GCQ) be retained or lifted in Metro Manila, Cebu City and several provinces?

President Duterte is waiting for the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

The IATF was expected to meet yesterday to map out the data based on the doubling rate of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), especially in the National Capital Region, deemed as the epicenter of the virus. The Department of Health (DOH) is presenting an epidemiological report.

Once they have the recommendation, presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the IATF will present this to Duterte who is set to meet with the group on Monday in Manila.

“The meeting with the President on Thursday is postponed,” he said.

While there are some notable improvements, Roque said the number of people infected with SARS-CoV-2 remains high based on DOH standards.

Roque said the government is wary that if everybody would let their guard down, there is a possibility that the country might experience a second wave of COVID-19.

“We are still looking for some kind of data that would indicate that Metro Manila, if we give it more liberty, so to speak, under MGCQ (modified GCQ), will not spark a second wave,” Roque said.

“We cannot afford a second wave and that is why we are looking at… data, but an indication that if we completely loosen up or almost completely loosen up, because there is no such thing as completely loosen up now, is that the cases will not spike,” he said.

Metro Manila and Cebu City are considered hot spots of the disease.

“We are looking at the epicenter of the virus; it has always been the epicenter. Although indicators appear to be improving, the reality is, numbers remain high and are increasing in Metro Manila,” he said.

The city of Cebu is also showing a similar trend of high transmission rates.

“Cebu City right now, like Metro Manila, is in GCQ but the numbers are also increasing. So, I would say that these two areas, Metro Manila and Cebu City, would take quite some time in the discussion that will take place this afternoon,” he said.

While there are reports that the majority or about 17,000 of the over 20,000 positive cases are considered mild, the IATF experts are also looking at the doubling rate of the disease.

Meanwhile, the government aims to distribute next week the bulk of the second tranche of aid for sectors sidelined by the coronavirus, Malacañang said yesterday.

Palace spokesman Roque said the transfer of funds would be done mainly through electronic means and can be finished in two days.

“Since it’s electronic, to those who would be covered, they can distribute in two days’ time, the balance. Those who have no access to electronic payments will still be done manually but this time, it will be disbursed with the assistance of the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” Roque told ABS-CBN News Channel.

“Realistically, we are hoping that at least a majority of the P105 billion would already have been disbursed electronically... So we are hoping that at least 60 percent will be done by next week,” he added.

The government is spending P205 billion for the social amelioration program (SAP), providing emergency subsidies to low-income households and workers whose sources of livelihood were disrupted by quarantine restrictions.

About 98 percent of the funds allocated for the first tranche of SAP has been distributed as of June 5.

In a report submitted to Congress last Monday, President Duterte said P99.76 billion out of the allotted amount of P101.48 billion has reached 17.64 million beneficiaries.

Quarantine burnout

The Philippine National Police (PNP) yesterday warned of a possible second wave of coronavirus infections if people will ignore health and safety measures due to “quarantine burnout.”

PNP deputy chief for operations Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar described quarantine burnout or fatigue as a scenario where people tend to be negligent in observing safety protocols because of stress after being under quarantine for a long period of time.

This includes wearing of face masks, observance of physical distancing rules when in public places and the ban on mass gatherings.

Eleazar said even police officers among the government’s frontline personnel in the effort to contain COVID-19 are also prone to fatigue.

He warned that this attitude could lead to more people getting infected. There are nearly 23,000 COVID-19 cases in the country.

Meanwhile, Presidential Security Group commander Col. Jesus Durante maintained yesterday that the PSG will not be lowering the current strict security and health measures implemented inside Malacañang complex.

“With the implementation of the general community quarantine in the National Capital Region, the Presidential Security Group will still maintain all safety protocols and measures currently enforced inside the PSG Compound and the whole Malacañang Complex,” Durante said.

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