Palace: IATF to bring back 'new normal' classification for areas with no virus transmission
A worker wearing a personal protective suit disinfects escalators, as part of measures aimed at preventing the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, in a mall in Manila on June 2, 2020, a day after the government eased up quarantine measures in the country's capital.
AFP/Ted Aljibe

Palace: IATF to bring back 'new normal' classification for areas with no virus transmission

Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - September 21, 2020 - 7:51pm

MANILA, Philippines — Areas with no COVID-19 transmission during the previous month may be placed under "new normal" and will no longer be under community quarantine but still required to observe health protocols, Malacañang said Monday.

The government defined "new normal" as "emerging behaviors, situations, and minimum public health standards that will be institutionalized in common or routine practices and remain even after the pandemic while the disease is not totally eradicated."  

The Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) removed the "new normal" classification last June because of the rising number of infections.

"We're still data-driven and guided by science. What I can say though is it will not be the same because I myself suggested, and the IATF agreed, that there will be areas with zero transmission in the past month that can be declared under the regime of 'new normal'," presidential spokesman Harry Roque said at a press briefing in Cagayan de Oro.

"So, with that, there will be a new classification, we will have a new normal aside from MGCQ (modified general community quarantine)," he added, referring to the most lenient quarantine scenario.

President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to announce the updated quarantine classifications before October 1. The government has agreed to implement quarantine classifications for one month instead of two weeks to ensure continuity in the enforcement of safety protocols.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez previously said Metro Manila, which is under general community quarantine, may be ready to be downgraded to MGCQ.

Lopez, however, said safety measures should be strictly observed including wearing of face shields and masks, no talking and eating in public transportation, physical distancing, and frequent disinfection.

"As to whether or not Metro Manila can move away from GCQ, we have requirements for that... Let's wait for the data," Roque said.

Roque previously said Metro Manila's case doubling rate should be 28 days or more in order to be downgraded to MGCQ. While Metro Manila has not achieved that, the capital region has new isolation facilities and hospital beds, he added.

Roque said there is no need to panic over the coronavirus crisis as health experts already know the "enemy."

"So do not panic. We are in control," he added. 

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