The National Task Force (NTF) on COVID-19 is not discounting the possibility of pinpointed lockdowns in the barangays affected by the new coronavirus, which the Department of Health (DoH) on Wednesday claimed is now in a “second-wave” outbreak while the country crawls back into normality.
Presidential Peace Adviser Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., also the NTF-COVID-19 Chief Implementer, disclosed that targeted barangay quarantine is being looked at for implementation in regions as part of efforts to contain or prevent the spread of the virus.
Galvez said localizing the National Action Plan (NAP) though the help of the local government units (LGU) would be the next step in helping curb the curve as he relayed his report to President Rodrigo Duterte at the meeting of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) in Malacañang on Tuesday night.
“It’s our way forward,” Galvez said. “DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) Secretary (Eduardo) Año is in touch with the LGU, so that we will no longer need to lock down per region, just the barangays (villages).”
“We’ll control the virus management, and at the same time ensure that the general economy will move,” he added.
Galvez said he is hopeful that with the guidance of the IATF, local governments can follow such a directive.
Metro Manila is currently under a modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) while many parts of the country are placed under a modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).
The quarantine was first implemented on 17 March when COVID-19 cases spiked.
He vowed to increase the country’s virus testing capacity to 30,000 per day so that carriers would be isolated from the public. Galvez also vowed to address issues concerning stranded and returning overseas Filipino workers (OFW).
“And then, we will strengthen contact tracing effort by the DILG and DoH, with the support the AFP and the PNP. Also, we will address concerns with the stranded/returning OFW. That was the guidance we received from Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana,” he stated.
“Next, we’ll accelerate the implementation of the Social Amelioration Program in coordination with the LGU. And then prepare the opening of business and economic recovery plan and the food security while sustaining the gains of the 60-day ECQ,” he added.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III claimed that the Philippines is already facing the second wave of the COVID-19, citing the brief period of having few victims as the origin of the outbreak. He made the declaration during the continuation of the Senate Committee of the Whole’s hearing on the government’s overall strategies against COVID-19 on Wednesday.
“We’re now in a ‘second wave’ of infections,” Duque announced. “The first was when we (had) three cases of Chinese nationals from Wuhan (China). It was a small wave, but it was recognized as the first wave.”
“We’re doing our best to flatten the curve,” he added.
Duque has been receiving flak for what is generally viewed as the DoH’s poor response to the spread of the virus. The agency struggled for weeks before it managed to stock up on personal protection gears and masks needed by the physicians and medical frontline workers, quite a number of whom died while attending to patients without the proper protective equipment.
It also took the DoH more weeks before it managed to put up COVID-19 testing centers, yet it still failed to meet the government’s target of at least 10,000 daily tests.
Local number of cases has breached 13,000 with 279 new infections as of Wednesday afternoon.
President Rodrigo Duterte, also on Tuesday night, disclosed that he is now looking towards purchasing a vaccine once it becomes available.
He reported that a pharmaceutical company — Moderna — has done clinicals tests for a potential vaccine for the virus.
“I’m looking for money to buy vaccines in case somebody else would beat Moderna to (their development).”
He said an option for the government is to borrow money for the purchase of anti-COVID-19 vaccine.
The experimental vaccine is the first to be tested in the United States, which is the new epicenter of the virus.
with Hananeel Bordey