Gov't implements stricter health protocols amid COVID-19 case surge â Palace
Residents wearing facemasks walk past a roadblock with awareness signs after the government imposed an enhanced quarantine as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 novel coronavirus in Manila on March 25, 2020.
AFP/Ted Aljibe

Gov't implements stricter health protocols amid COVID-19 case surge — Palace

Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - March 7, 2021 - 4:49pm

MANILA, Philippines — The government is tightening on the enforcement of COVID-19 safety measures and is closely monitoring the spikes in the number of infections, including those caused by the more transmissible South African variant, Malacañang said Sunday.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the police, the Metro Manila Development Authority, and local governments are making sure that health standards are complied with to contain the virus, which has so far infected more than 591,000 people in the Philippines.

"We really have to be stricter when it comes to the law enforcement side. We can see that the PNP (Philippine National Police) is stricter in implementing and enforcing protocols, they are really accosting (violators)," Nograles told radio station dzBB in Filipino.

"We're also looking to the MMDA in terms of enforcement here in Metro Manila. There is a need really to accost and remind people who are not following (protocols) and those who are stubborn. They know what to do," he added.

The Philippines recorded 3,439 new COVID-19 infections last Saturday, the highest since mid-October. Some sectors have attributed the increase to the easing of lockdown measures intended to reopen the economy.

Nograles, also the co-chairman of the government's pandemic task force, said local executives have the authority to impose measures that would stem the increase of infections in their respective areas. He said local governments may also impose localized lockdowns in areas of concern or those with rising numbers of infections.

"The local government units (LGUs) are there, they are on the ground and they can provide a quick assessment and action. It is within their power to make adjustments, policies, or decisions," he said.

Nograles said the situation in areas of concern like Pasay would be considered when the government decides on the quarantine classifications for April. He said the government's pandemic task force has designated groups that would focus on vaccination and genome sequencing.

"We are monitoring the spike in infections in Pasay City and other areas in Metro Manila. We have to do the genome sequencing especially in Metro Manila so we can detect the variants we are monitoring like the South African and UK variant," the Cabinet secretary said.

"We will monitor the cases for the entire month of March and obviously, it would be our basis for making recommendations for (the quarantine classification in) April," he added.

Nograles reminded the public that while the new COVID-19 variants are more infectious, the manner of transmission is the same so they should continue to wash their hands frequently, wear face masks, and observe physical distancing.

"While the vaccines have arrived, it does not mean we can stop complying with the health protocols," he added.

Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte said he would loosen pandemic-related restrictions nationwide if the government maintains a stockpile of at least two million vaccine doses.

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