MANILA – The government vowed to use the 15-day modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) it imposed on Metro Manila Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite, and Laguna to prevent the further surge of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) transmissions and reduce the number of positive cases.
This was the commitment made by members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and the National Task Force (NTF) against Covid-19 during a recent virtual meeting with Metro Manila mayors.
“Pangatawanan natin itong 15 days na ito para makabalik tayo sa GCQ (Let us take advantage of these 15 days to return to general community quarantine),” Interior Secretary and NTF Vice Chair Eduardo Año told the local chief executives, according to a news release issued on Thursday.
National Policy Against Covid-19 Chief Implementer Carlito G. Galvez Jr. cited the importance of securing timely and accurate data, especially in crafting policy guidelines and recommendations.
Galvez encouraged the local government units (LGUs) to work closely with the IATF and NTF, especially in sharing vital information that would help the government improve its anti-coronavirus prevention and mitigation measures.
“Information is the only determinant for our decision-making process. Kailangan na mayroon tayong (We should have) collaborative data collection,” he said.
Responding to health workers’ needs
The reimposition of the MECQ on the NCR and four Luzon provinces came after health care workers called for a “timeout”, as hospitals across the country are starting to be overwhelmed by the increasing Covid-19 cases.
In response to this call, the Department of Health (DOH) said it is in the process of hiring more health care workers to augment the current medical workforce deployed to government-run and private hospitals across Metro Manila.
Based on the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte, private health care workers shall also receive a risk allowance, life insurance, free accommodation, free transportation, as well as free and frequent Covid-19 testing under the proposed “Bayanihan 2” Act.
“Our health care workers are the most important people fighting Covid-19. We owe a lot to them, so we will also do our best to ensure that their needs are met,” Galvez said.
New MECQ guidelines
Unlike the previous imposition of MECQ on Metro Manila, tricycles will now be allowed to ply their routes, provided only one passenger is on board.
Back riding in motorcycles will also be permitted if they have the IATF-approved barrier installed.
Curfew is still in effect in Metro Manila from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., while several cities, such as Manila and Makati, did not impose a liquor ban.
“Ang essence ng (The essence of) MECQ is for everyone to stay home. We expect bababa ang (to bring down) cases during this period (after we detect, isolate, and treat the positive cases),” Año said.
Meanwhile, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno pledged to continue intensifying the city’s contact tracing efforts in line with the IATF’s guidance to LGUs.
“We have always followed what you said na tuluy-tuloy lang naming palakasin ang (that we will continue to strengthen) contact tracing. We will do that and more,” Moreno said.
Meanwhile, Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, who is also isolation czar, assured the mayors that the government is working double-time to build more isolation facilities to cope with the rising number of infections.
“Tuloy-tuloy lang kami ng (We will continue) building ng isolation facilities. Kung may kailangan po kayo request lang po (Just inform us if you have any request). The sooner the better,” Villar said.