DILG urges 'reinforced' COVID-19 measures in LGUs after DOH projects 10k daily cases

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
DILG urges 'reinforced' COVID-19 measures in LGUs after DOH projects 10k daily cases
Pupils of Concepcion Elementary School in Marikina attend bridging classes on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022. A bridging class is designed for students to catch up the subjects that are needed to be mastered including Math, Science, AP and English.
The STAR / Walter Bollozos

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of the Interior and Local Government urged local government units Friday to reinforce measures against COVID-19 in an effort to push back against the Health Department’s projected increase in cases until the end of the year.

This comes after the Department of Health said there was a possibility of over 10,600 daily COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila by October, which Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos called “a clear warning that all LGUs should take seriously.” 

In a statement sent to reporters Friday afternoon, Abalos said that LGUs should stand guard on cases in their respective localities to mitigate the possibility of a surge in the coming months which can even extend to other parts of the country until the end of the year.

“We’re calling on our LGUs to closely watch the cases in their localities. We are still in a pandemic and we count on our local officials to lead this war, especially in the coming months where alarming numbers of COVID-19 cases are projected,” Abalos said in mixed Filipino and English.

As of Thursday, NCR leads regions in the country with the most number of COVID-19 cases registering 15,804 new cases in the last 14 days followed by CALABARZON with 10,049; Central Luzon with 5,102 and Western Visayas with 2,760 cases.

Per data from the DOH, Quezon City logged the most coronavirus cases in Metro Manila with 302 new infections on Thursday. Manila, Parañaque and Makati came after with 159, 113 and 100 new cases in their localities, respectively. No other city in the capital region breached the 100-mark. 

"Many of our compatriots make a living in Metro Manila. This is the economic center of the country, so its defense must be strong and we can prevent the increase of cases that may spread to other parts of the country," Abalos said.

The DOH attributed the projected number to the low administration of booster doses, low compliance to prescribed health and safety protocols, increase in human mobility, and fast transmission of Omicron subvariants.

Support for vaccination urged 

Abalos also called for local chief executives to support PinasLakas, the DOH’s campaign that aims to immunize 23.8 million or at least 50% of the eligible population within the first 100 days of the Marcos administration.

“Vaccines have carried us through the murk of the pandemic. We are able to go back to our old ways because of them and so we hope that our people see that this is a big help,” the DILG chief said.

The DILG secretary urged all LGUs in the country to ensure that they are not lenient in enforcing minimum public health standards and are proactive in their booster shot and vaccination drives.

“We cannot let our guards down. The projected number of cases in NCR is a clear sign for all LGUs in the country to step up their campaign because COVID-19 can again trickle to your own backyards. We must work collectively,” Abalos said.

Earlier, Senate President Migz Zubiri also told reporters that “most” senators are generally in favor of having the national government allow expiring vaccine jabs to be used to inoculate the general population with their second dose booster shots. 

Infectious disease expert says some LGUs left behind in pandemic response systems

In an earlier exchange with Philstar.com Friday morning, Benjamin Co, chief of the Infectious Diseases Division of Pediatrics at UST Hospital, expressed concern over the varied level of healthcare support systems at the local level. 

“As for alert levels this should be based on the healthcare capacity of every LGU. There are LGUs with poorer support systems than others and they also the ones where vaccination is also lowest,” he said in an online message. 

Co pointed to the lack of isolation areas in any local government unit as one major reason behind rising healthcare utilization. He added that because of this, alert levels moving forward should be based on the healthcare capacity of every LGU.

"Hospitals serve as the isolation facility as needed…Moving forward is a difficult prediction to make as the virus continues to evolve. For now, everything looks normal. Until you test positive," he said.

Under the Duterte administration, local chief executives carried the lion’s share of responsibility in carrying out the government’s pandemic response — from contact tracing to testing and vaccinating their constituents. 

In his first State of the Nation in July, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said that imposing another coronavirus-induced lockdown under his administration is out of the question.


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