OPAV: Too early to lift quarantines
Tan’s group said the President should instead adopt a national protocol for the prophylaxis or prevention and early treatment of COVID-19 as an alternative to community quarantines. Prophylaxis means preventive healthcare or measures taken for disease prevention.
The Freeman/Aldo Nelbert Banaynal, file
OPAV: Too early to lift quarantines
Caecent No-ot Magsumbol (The Freeman) - September 22, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  Assistant Secretary Anthony Gerard “Jonji” Gonzales of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (OPAV) said he thinks it's too early to lift the quarantine classifications in the country, particularly in the Visayas region.

He made the remarks on the heels of the call of former DOH secretary Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan and the rest of the Concerned Doctors and Citizens of the Philippines to President Rodrigo Duterte the lifting of quarantine protocols in the country for the economy’s sake.

Tan pointed out that Thailand, for one, has no complete lockdown, yet their cases are low.

Tan’s group said the President should instead adopt a national protocol for the prophylaxis or prevention and early treatment of COVID-19 as an alternative to community quarantines. Prophylaxis means preventive healthcare or measures taken for disease prevention.

CDC-PH also launched #FlattenTheFear campaign during a press conference in Pasig City late last week where its members expressed opposition to the enforcement of more lockdowns and pushed for the country’s return to normal.

But Gonzales noted that the cases have risen again.

“I think it’s too early. In areas where there were no local transmissions during stricter quarantine protocols, now we’re seeing cases rising,” Gonzales told The FREEMAN.

As an example, Bacolod City in Negros Occidental is currently being tagged as the epicenter of COVID-19, and it is affecting neighboring LGUs.

“Local transmission is now happening in areas 100 kilometers away from the epicenter,” said Gonzales.

Emergency operation centers in every LGUs need to be institutionalized and testing and contract tracing protocols have to be put in place yet just like in Cebu.

“Unless we are able to institutionalized Emergency Operation Center of every LGU and put in place testing and contact tracing protocol like in Cebu and now in Bacolod and the province of Negros Occidental, it is premature (to lift quarantine),” added Gonzales.

Based on his observation after going to different areas in the Visayas, Gonzales noted that the health care system of far-flung LGUs are not that capable.

“We can’t risk a sudden spike (of Covid 19 cases),” he said.

Gonzales said they need to “clone” retired M/Gen. Mel Feliciano who created a Covid-19 playbook for Cebu that is now being replicated in Bacolod and Negros Occidental. He said Feliciano’s tactics worked well for the Cebuanos, especially Cebu City.

He likewise said there is also a need to replicate the Project Balik Buhay initiated by the private sector in Cebu and supported by some metro LGUS and the Department of Health-7.

The PBB aims to keep the workplace safe and gradually reopen the economy.

Gonzales said it’s better not to rush things or face deadly consequences.

“The President, in his wisdom, is asking us to be patient and wait for the vaccine,” said Gonzales. — JMD (FREEMAN)

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