Gov’t vows ‘major changes’ in Covid-19 response

The national government vowed to make “major changes” in its coronavirus disease (Covid-19) response after President Rodrigo Duterte announces the new quarantine classifications on July 30, 2020.

PNA file photo

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, however, emphasized the need to rely less on classifications, and instead be more “innovative” in terms of Covid-19 response.

“The people will now see the difference in the response that we will have, it is now thoroughly invigorated and part of it, is we build capacity and we now have the capacity to do what we wanted from the very beginning,” he said in an interview over CNN Philippines.

Roque said expanded targeted testing will soon be possible after pool or batch testing, which makes use of one reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test kit for 10 to 20 persons, has been approved in principle.

“There will be expanded targeted testing, beyond numbers that they probably would not have imagined,” he said.

He said they would also reinvigorate tracing by building an army of volunteers, enhance isolation by building more isolation centers for mild and asymptomatic patients, and improving treatment with the use of life-saving equipment such as high-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) machines.

Asked of the possibility that Metro Manila could revert to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), Roque said it would depend on the country’s current critical care capacity.

“It’s critical care capacity that’s the problem ‘no because [intensive care unit] beds, we have reached around 80 percent,” he said.

He emphasized the need to dedicate more ICU beds reserved for Covid-19 patients first.

On the other hand, he said the country’s case doubling rate has improved from 7 days to 8.9 days.

“We actually improved because the higher the case doubling rate is, the longer is better,” he said.

Currently, Cebu City remains the only area under modified enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) until July 31.

Areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) are Laguna, Cavite and Rizal for Region 4-A (Calabarzon); Lapu Lapu City, Mandaue City for Region 7 (Central Visayas), Ormoc City, Southern Leyte, Zamboanga City, Butuan City, Agusan del Norte and Basilan.

The cities of Talisay, Minglanilla, and Consolacion in Cebu province are also under GCQ.

Areas under “medium-risk” MGCQ are: Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) — Benguet, Baguio City; Region 1 (Ilocos Region) — Ilocos Sur, Pangasinan, Ilocos Norte, La Union, Dagupan City; Region 2 (Cagayan Valley) — Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya; Region 3 (Central Luzon) — Bataan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Bulacan, Tarlac, Zambales, Angeles City; Region 4-A — Batangas, Quezon, Lucena City; Region 4-B (Mimaropa) — Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro and Puerto Princesa City.

Also under medium-risk MGCQ are: Albay, Masbate, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Sorsogon, Naga City in Region 5 (Bicol); Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Capiz, Antique, Aklan, Guimaras, Iloilo City, Bacolod City in Region 6 (Western Visayas); Negros Oriental, Bohol, Cebu Province in Region 7 (Central Visayas); Western Samar, Leyte, Biliran, Tacloban City in Region 8 (Eastern Visayas); Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Norte in Region 9 (Zamboanga); Misamis Occidental, Bukidnon, Lanao del Norte, Cagayan de Oro City, Iligan City in Region 10 (Northern Mindanao); Davao Oriental, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Davao de Oro, Davao City in Region 11 (Davao Region); Sultan Kudarat, Cotabato, South Cotabato, General Santos City in Region 12 (Soccsksargen); Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao in BARMM; and Agusan del Sur, Dinagat Islands, Surigao del Norte, and Surigao del Sur in Region 13.

The rest of the country will remain under “low-risk” MGCQ.

Several local government units (LGUs) are still sending in appeals on quarantine classifications.(Azer Parrocha, PNA)