DOH: Scrapping of community quarantines a long-term goal for now
Individuals double check their phones while they wait outside the Eulogio "Amang" Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology (EARIST) in Manila hoping to be vaccinated despite not receiving a confirmatory schedule text message as the local government starts to implement a no walk-in policy to prevent overcrowding in vaccination sites on Monday.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman

DOH: Scrapping of community quarantines a long-term goal for now

(Philstar.com) - June 21, 2021 - 3:26pm

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 5:52 p.m.) — The Department of Health confirmed on Monday that the national government is discussing the eventual scrapping of quarantine classifications in the country, but stressed that this remains a long-term goal for now.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire in Monday’s briefing confirmed Interior Undersecretary Epimaco Densing’s remarks last weekend that they discussing easing all quarantine qualifications and leaving the decision to close its borders to local government units.

“That is true. That’s the long-term goal. That’s not going to happen now or in the next month. This we can say that we are talking about it, that’s correct, because it is important that we have a goal on when we will shift to that direction that we will slowly ease our restrictions,” she said partly in Filipino.

Vergeire said they are discussing it now so that the discretion on implementing protocols, including quarantine classifications, has been shifted to local governments there will remain safeguards.

These safeguards include that we will no longer have the risk of having further transmission and the risk that the lockdown of a locality will not be rational.

“So we are discussing it. A long study [is needed]. It will not happen in the next month but what [Usec Densing] said is correct that this is being discussed already,” she added.

'Not likely this year'

Malacañang, meanwhile, said quarantine classifications are not likely to be lifted this year as it denied that the government is studying the possibility of doing away with the grouping of areas according to COVID-19 risks.

"I do not have that information as the official spokesman of the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) and spokesman of the President on all matters related to COVID-19," presidential spokesman Harry Roque said at a press briefing when asked to react to Densing's statement.

"My appeal to our colleagues in government is to respect the order of our President (on the) centralized release of information to avoid confusion. My request to our colleagues in the media is if you want to clarify information, please direct your questions to our office because we respond to them and I think the Malacañang Press Corps can attest to this," he added.

Asked about the possibility of lifting the community quarantine this year, Roque replied: "I do not know. That's a decision to be made by the IATF."

"Pero tingin ko po, malabo pa iyan. Malabo pa po iyan (But I think that is still unlikely)," he added.

The Philippines continues to be under community quarantine for more than a year since the lockdown due to the pandemic was first announced in March 2020.

President Rodrigo Duterte has been regularly announcing quarantine classifications, usually in the next month or 15 days, for different parts of the country in his public addresses. The shift on classifications is based on recommendations of the Inter-Agency Task Force of the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, of which the DOH and other national government agencies are part of.

Metro Manila and Bulacan are currently under general community quarantine with some restrictions while Rizal, Laguna and Cavite will be under the same status but with heightened restrictions. — Kristine Joy Patag with Alexis Romero, reports from The STAR/Emmanuel Tupas

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