Stricter quarantine not yet needed despite rise in COVID-19 cases â officials
Devotees maintain proper social distancing and follow other health protocols as they attend the first Friday of the month mass at the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, Manila.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman

Stricter quarantine not yet needed despite rise in COVID-19 cases — officials

Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - March 8, 2021 - 12:27pm

MANILA, Philippines — The government is not yet considering imposing more stringent community quarantine measures despite the increase in the number of COVID-19 infections as cities and municipalities can impose localized lockdowns. 

For three consecutive days, the Philippines has reported over 3,000 COVID-19 cases, pushing to 594,412 the total number of infections. 

“For now, we are not contemplating on having this region-wide enhanced community quarantine as what we had before,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an interview with CNN Philippines Monday.

“If you may observe and what experts have been telling us, this is not the only measure we can implement for us to prevent transmission,” she added.

In a separate interview with ABS-CBN News Channel, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles also said there is no need to place parts of the country under stricter quarantine status such as MECQ and ECQ. 

“Right now, it's not needed,” Nograles, who also co-chair the IATF, said. 

Localized responses

Both government officials stressed that localized responses such as granular lockdowns are the most appropriate strategies at this point. 

“LGUs already have localized and granular lockdown mechanism and that’s already an ECQ but in a granular and localized level: per barangay, per street, per building, per purok, per sitio. They can already do that,” Nograles said. 

The responses of LGUs will be monitored in the next two weeks, he added. 

Aside from having localized lockdowns, local governments must boost the visibility of their enforcers to remind people to comply with minimum health protocols, Vergeire stressed.

“Most importantly, our local governments should step up in their gatekeeping indicators. There should be appropriate and adequate testing, quarantining immediately within the 24-hour period so we can be able to prevent the transmission of the disease,” the health official said. 

Vergeire, in a briefing, said the government is monitoring whether there is a need for another “timeout” but it is not recommended at the moment. Metro Manila and neighboring areas reverted back to modified enhanced community quarantine in August last year after exhausted medical frontliners, who warned a collapse of the healthcare system, called for a “timeout.”

“Let’s try to see if our first salvo—localized responses—will be effective,” she said. 

Metro Manila, Apayao, Baguio City, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Batangas, Tacloban City, Iligan City, Davao City and Lanao del Sur are under general community quarantine for the whole month of March. 

The rest of the country, meanwhile, is placed under the laxest quarantine status—modified GCQ.

The government’s pandemic task force initially recommended to President Rodrigo Duterte for the entire country to shift to MGCQ but this was rejected by the chief executive who only wants coronavirus measures to be relaxed further once vaccines are available.

The government has begun vaccinating health workers, select government officials and uniformed personnel last week but vaccine czar Carlito Galvez said the vaccine rollout for the general public may start in late April, at the earliest. 

As the inoculation starts, the country experiences an increase in the number of cases.

The DOH said the rise in the COVID-19 cases cannot be solely attributed to the presence of more transmissible variants although it has aggravated the increase in infections. But the “underlying cause” is the non-compliance to health protocols. 


As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: March 5, 2021 - 10:27am

National Economic and Development Authority director general Karl Chua recommended that the entire Philippines, including the National Capital Region, be placed under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) in March. Bookmark this page for updates. (Main image by The STAR/Michael Varcas)

March 5, 2021 - 10:27am

The country's Food and Drug Administration reminds the public that online selling of all types of certified COVID-19 test kits (RT-PCR, antibody, antigen based) is strictly prohibited.

In an advisory dated March 4, FDA director general Eric Domingo stressed that the COVID-19 test kits with special certification are stricly for medical professional use and not intended for personal use.

February 19, 2021 - 7:45am

The inter-agency task force approves a resolution mandating pension-issuing agencies and their servicing banks and other institutions to adopt alternative modes of validation for senior citizen pensions.

At present, senior citizens make personal appearances or submit documents that require personal appearances before a notary public in order to have continuous access to their pensions. —  The STAR/Christina Mendez

February 18, 2021 - 12:13pm

Navotas mayor Toby Tiangco says nine mayors in the Metro Manila Council voted to ease quarantine status in the region to modified general community quarantine starting March 1.

Eight Metro Manila mayors, on the other hand, wanted to retain the GCQ status,

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