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Rody okays shift to MECQ

NCR, 4 provinces under stricter lockdown; Honeylet to serve as frontliner

President Rodrigo Duterte has placed Metro Manila, Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite and Laguna under Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine for 15 days as COVID-19 cases continued to surge, with the total breaching the 100,000 mark on Sunday after the Department of Health (DOH) reported 5,032 more infections, the fourth all-time high in a row.

Rody okays shift to MECQ

READ: Rody prolongs GCQ in Metro, five provinces

MECQ will take effect midnight of August 4 and will last until August 18.

The lockdown protocol upgrade was part of a seven-point recommendation that was firmed up during Sunday's meeting between Cabinet officials representatives of the Philippine Medical Association, the Philippine Nurses Association, and the Philippine Association of Medical Technologists.

Other recommendations of the Cabinet are as follows: 1. Hire additional healthcare workers and form a healthcare worker reserve. The government will also enter into a memorandum of agreement with private hospitals to allow the deployment of state healthcare workers to private facilities until December 2020; 2. Give additional benefits to healthcare workers: P10,000 risk allowance for private sector healthcare workers and free life insurance under a pending bill; 3. Free accommodation and transportation as well as free and frequent COVID-19 testing for healthcare workers; 4. Require work and quarantine passes anew to minimize people going out on non-essential travels; 5. Ramp up localized lockdowns; and 6. Intensify street enforcement of guidelines for minimum health standards and procure 20 million cloth masks for the poor.

Duterte said the government will seek to include the additional benefits sought by healthcare workers in the Bayanihan 2 measure pending in Congress.

“We agree that you are bone-weary, I know you are tired to the bone – both the pressure and the stressful work, the uncertainty and the fear of getting COVID-19 and not having any in return,” the President said.

“We are ready to consider stipend or allowances or pay. Give us time, and we will make a report, and we hope this will be included in the Bayanihan 2. I will give this to you ahora mismo, no delay,” he added.

Duterte said he can understand if medical frontliners are now hesitating to work amid the health crisis as he cited the decision of his wife, Honeylet Avanceña, to volunteer as frontliner in the fight against COVID-19.

“My wife has also volunteered to be a frontliner – she's a nurse,” the President said.

“This is a war against microbes. Who are our soldiers? The nurses and the doctors. If you cannot go the extra mile, then I can understand you. I am very sorry, but I can understand you. But who else can we turn to?” Duterte added.

On Saturday, at least 80 medical associations representing thousands of doctors signed a letter calling for a "timeout" amid the continuing surge of infections.

“Health care workers are united in sounding off a distress signal to the nation—our health care system has been overwhelmed,” the letter read.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, for his part, assured healthcare workers that they are "the most important people in our fight against COVID-19."

He said the Duterte administration has prioritized the health of medical frontliners, proof of which is the reduced number of COVID-19 cases involving healthcare workers, from a high of 20 percent to 5.3 percent.

Sunday's tally marks the first time more than 5,000 new cases were reported and brings the Philippines closer to having the highest number of infections across Southeast Asia, a position currently held by Indonesia with 109,936 cases.

Of the confirmed cases reported, 2,114 were fresh cases, while 2,918 were reported late. In both instances, Metro Manila accounted for the most number of cases.

READ: Metro Manila, 9 other areas to remain under GCQ

The department reported 20 new deaths, bringing the total fatalities from COVID-19 to 2,059.

At the same time, health officials reported Sunday that 301 patients recovered from the disease, bringing total recoveries to 65,557.

The regions with the most number of cases were the National Capital Region with 1,577 (50 percent), Region 4A, with 786 (25 percent) and Region 7, with 299 (10 percent).

In Metro Manila, the cities with the most number of cases were Quezon City, with 569 (21 percent); Manila, with 379 (14 percent); Makati City, with 339 (12 percent); Caloocan City, with 151 (6 percent); and Taguig City, 132 (5 percent).

In Region 4A, Cavite accounted for 463 (40 percent), followed by Laguna, at 326 (28 percent); Rizal at 201 (17 percent); Batangas, at 113 (10 percent) and Quezon, 16 (1 percent).

There are 35,569 active cases undergoing treatment or quarantine as of Sunday.

A doctor said on Sunday warned that the Philippines is losing its battle against the pandemic, as health care workers battling COVID-19 in the frontlines are seeking coordination between national and local governments aside from strict lockdown to address the surge.

During an interview with ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo, Dr. Antonio Dans of the Philippine College of Physicians said the capacity of hospitals in Metro Manila for handling COVID-19 patients is at 85 percent, much higher than the "danger zone" level of 70 percent

“The overriding problem is, there seems to be no coordination from the top downwards. There are localized lockdowns, but are these being followed?,” he said in Filipino.

As of last week, more than 4,500 doctors, nurses and other health care workers have contracted the disease amid the rising number of infections across the country.

Aside from the lack of health care workers, the doctors' groups also urged the government to improve case finding and isolation and to ensure transportation and workplace safety.

The doctors also said public behavior was also a problem because some people, thinking the situation is getting better, no longer wear masks.

READ: Local Roundup: Courts, churches brace for ECQ

Topics: Rodrigo Duterte , Metro Manila , MECQ , COVID-19 pandemic , Department of Health
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