Taguig City Mayor Lino Cayetano (YouTube photo courtesy)
The appeal this week of Taguig City Mayor Lino Cayetano to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to look into household gatherings in making policies amid the pandemic is properly worth listening to.
The appeal coincided with an assurance by Interior Secretary Eduardo Año that the local government units and the Philippine National Police would enforce all laws, ordinances, omnibus guidelines, and community quarantine protocols to keep the people safe from possible local transmission of more contagious Delta variant of COVID-19.
“That is why the public should not worry since there are prepared plans for the COVID Delta variant,’’ Año said during the IATF-EID meeting prior to President Rodrigo Duterte’s talk to the people in Davao City on Monday night.
Año said the department would soon issue a memorandum reminding LGUs to immediately prepare strategic plans against the possible local transmission of Delta variant.
The Department of Health said a patient infected with the Delta variant could infect as many as eight people in one sitting.
Duterte is eyeing stricter health measures in preparation for the possible local transmission of “more aggressive and fatal” Delta variants in the country.
“The reported local cases in the country are a cause for serious alarm and concern. Again it’s redundant but it’s good as any warning that can be given to people. We may need to impose stricter restrictions to avoid mass gathering and prevent super spreader events,” Duterte said during his Talk to the People program.
Eleazar assured that the PNP was ready should Duterte decide to implement stricter quarantine measures.
“I have tasked all police offices and units to coordinate closely with their respective LGUs so that they may come up with stringent measures to curb the spread of the variant,” he added.
Meanwhile, a health expert on Tuesday backed the calls for the return of orders for children to stay at home in areas under the strictest lockdown levels, as the Philippines detected more cases of the highly transmissible Delta COVID-19 variant.
The inter-agency task force leading the country’s COVID-19 response will meet later this week to map out measures to arrest the spread of the Delta variant.
Task Force officials have said the delta variant is seen as the root cause in the spike of the cases in other countries like India and Indonesia.
The DILG has also been receiving reports on alleged mass gathering organized by politicians amid the pandemic – which should be frowned upon by well-meaning residents.
At the Laging Handa public briefing, DILG Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III warned politicians against holding assemblies and meetings, which officials said might result in a superspreader event.
Cayetano’s appeal was aired on Super Radyo dzBB where he pointed out that household gathering was more of a concern for him than the restriction on children to go outdoors.
“I am appealing to the IATF to look closely for our countrymen to really avoid in the next weeks these household gatherings,” he said.
He made the statement after the IATF allowed children aged five and above to go outdoors in areas under general community quarantine and modified GCQ.
According to Cayetano, many families have been holding household gatherings despite the prohibition under the GCQ rules.
Unlike outdoors, he said, and we are persuaded to agree, the police could not monitor and enforce the observance of minimum health standards inside households.
Metro Manila mayors urged the IATF to suspend the policy allowing children to go outside amid the threat of the highly contagious COVID-19 Delta variant.
At the same time, Año also said border control especially in the international airports and seaports would be intensified while the local chief executives would lead the aggressive mass vaccination and faster testing, tracing, contact tracing and isolation of patients infected with the virus.
Through Operation: Listo (Operation: Awareness), the protocol for the management of emerging infectious diseases, Año said there will be an increased number of quarantine and isolation and health care facilities.
Año said the country had so far recorded 36 Delta variant cases, with two deaths – one less than the report the other day.
The DILG chief also noted that other countries like the United Kingdom, Australia and Malaysia were currently enforcing lockdowns to prevent the Delta variant transmission.
For his part, PNP chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said the surge of Delta variants in India should remind everyone the importance of strictly observing health protocols.
“We all witnessed what happened in India and we do not want it to happen in our country now that we have confirmed cases of the Delta variant and known fatalities,” he said.