Gov’t vows to bring down COVID-19 cases during MECQ

The Philippine government has vowed to use the 15-day Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) it imposed in Metro Manila Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite and Laguna to prevent the further surge of COVID-19 transmissions and lower the number of positive cases in these areas.

According to a news release posted at the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) webiste, this was the commitment made by members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 during a virtual meeting with Metro Manila mayors on August 3, 2020.

“Pangatawanan natin itong 15 days na ito para makabalik tayo sa GCQ (general community quarantine),” Interior and Local Government Secretary and NTF Vice-Chair Eduardo Año told the local chief executives.

National Action Plan (NAP) against COVID-19 Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez, Jr. emphasized the importance of securing timely and accurate data, especially in crafting policy guidelines and recommendations.

Galvez encouraged the LGUs to closely work with the IATF and NTF, especially in sharing vital information that will help the government improve its anti-COVID-19 prevention and mitigation measures.

“Information is the only determinant for our decision-making process. Kailangan na mayroon tayong collaborative data collection,” Galvez said.

Responding to health workers’ needs

The reimposition of MECQ in the NCR and four Luzon provinces came after healthcare workers called for a “time out,” as hospitals across the country are starting to be overwhelmed by the increasing COVID cases.

In response to this call, the Department of Health (DOH) said it is already in the process of hiring more healthcare workers to augment the current medical workforce deployed in government-run and private hospitals throughout Metro Manila.

Based on the directive of President Duterte, private healthcare 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 healthcare 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 in Metro Manila, tricycles will now be allowed to ply their routes as long as only one passenger is onboard.

Backriding in motorcycles will also be permitted provided that 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, like Manila and Makati, did not impose a liquor ban.

“Ang essence ng MECQ is for everyone to stay home. We expect bababa ang cases during this period (after we detect, isolate and treat the positive cases),” Año said.

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno vowed 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 contact tracing. We will do that, and more,” Moreno said.

Public Works and Highways Secretary and isolation czar Mark Villar assured the mayors that the government is working double-time to build more isolation facilities to cope with the rising number of cases.

“Tuloy tuloy lang kami ng building ng isolation facilities. Kung may kailangan po kayo request lang po. The sooner the better,” Villar said