Medical frontliners advise return to ECQ in Mega Manila until August 15

Ratziel San Juan - Philstar.com
Medical frontliners advise return to ECQ in Mega Manila until August 15
Health workers of St. Jude Family Hospital in Los Baños, Laguna receive on March 25, 2020 donated personal protective equipment from different business sectors in the province.
The STAR / Walter Bollozos

MANILA, Philippines — Medical professionals on Saturday morning called for Mega Manila — which encompasses the National Capital Region, Region III (Central Luzon) and Region IV-A (Calabarzon) — to revert back to enhanced community quarantine in order to reconfigure existing strategies in dealing with the COVID-19 threat.

President Rodrigo Duterte in a delayed broadcast aired Friday morning announced that Metro Manila will remain under general community quarantine, along with other areas including Region III's Bulacan and Region IV-A's Cavite, Laguna and Rizal.

In a Saturday press conference held by the Philippine College of Physicians, around 40 medical societies addressed the president, COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. and Health Secretary Francisco Duque through an open letter stating that the country's healthcare system is already at its maximum capacity and calling for a timeout through stricter quarantine measures.

“The medical community appeals for a return to enhanced community quarantine in Mega Manila from August 1 to 15 to recalibrate strategies against COVID-19. Dear President Duterte, healthcare workers are united in sounding off a distress signal to the nation that our healthcare system has been overwhelmed,” Philippine Medical Association President Jose Santiago read the letter, citing a consistent rise in the number of infections and fully-capacitated hospitals.

“We propose the ECQ be used as a timeout to refine our pandemic control strategies addressing the following urgent conditions or problems: hospital workforce efficiency, failure of case finding and isolation, failure of contact tracing and quarantine, transportation safety, workplace safety, public compliance with self-protection, [and] social amelioration.”

The medical community also appealed to the administration to reconsider the return of businesses like gyms, internet cafes, testing and tutorial centers and drive-in cinemas as announced by Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.

“The health sector cannot hold the line for much longer. Our healthcare workers should not bear the burden of deciding who lives and who dies. If the health system collapses, it is ultimately our poor who are the most compromised. In the end, winning the war against COVID 19 relies heavily on being able to keep our health system capacitated to address the needs of all Filipinos. We hope that our government heeds this plea.”

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