NATIONAL Task Force (NTF) on COVID-19 chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. yesterday said many areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) can now be downgraded to the more relaxed modified GCQ as he expressed satisfaction with the implementation of community quarantine restrictions in Metro Manila and other areas in the country.
“Maganda po iyong implementation not only (at) NCR (National Capital Region) but also in the other areas. Ang maganda po doon is kapag po nag-declare kami ng GCQ, ang ibang areas gusto nila ECQ ang ano nila, declaration (The implementation of quarantine is good, not only in the National Capital Region but also in the other areas. The good thing is if we declare a GCQ, some areas want to be upgraded to ECQ),” he said.
Galvez said the LGUs also implemented “redundant” protocols or quarantine procedures that contributed to the safeguarding of their areas from the spread of the COVID-19, like the observance of 14-day quarantines and the conduct of Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reactor (RT-PCR) on persons who arrive in their communities, like locally stranded individuals and overseas Filipino workers.
In Metro Manila in particular, Galvez said LGUs were quick to implement localized or barangay lockdowns if they find out that some people from their barangays violate protocols or cases of COVID -19 are reported.
“I foresee that some areas under GCQ can now be downgraded MGCQ. But we saw the recommendation of some LGUs that they want to maintain the restrictions,” he said.
Galvez said stressed the importance of finding a balance between the public health with general welfare and the economic aspect.
“We have to balance life and also the economy. The economy has already been contracted or negative 0.2. So we need to revive our economy by opening up some restrictions but without jeopardizing the health protocols that we have,” he added.
Galvez said the government cannot do away with the quarantine restrictions immediately as people might end up more relaxed and disregard even the minimum protocols.
“For now, we need what we call quarantine control. The President said slowly, gradually and little by little,” he said.
“For now what has been decided is to be on the threshold, in the timeline which is an MGCQ. And we are proposing that we should be there together so we can all proceed to the new normal together,” he added.
President Duterte is set to announce on Tuesday if current community quarantines will be lifted or downgraded.
Currently under ECQ until June 30 is Cebu City, while Talisay City is under MGCQ.
Metro Manila along with Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino and Santiago City in Cagayan Valley (Region 2); Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Olongapo, Tarlac in Central Luzon (Region 3); Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon in Calabarzon (Region 4-A); Occidental Mindoro in Mimaropa (Region 4-B), Cebu province, Bohol, Negros Oriental, Siquijor, Mandaue City, and Lapu-Lapu City in Central Visayas (Region 7); and Davao City and Zamboanga City in Mindanao are under GCQ.
Galvez said the government would gradually lift the current quarantine levels but would carefully study its decision.
He said the government is assessing the situation carefully and coming up with different timelines based on the current condition of the pandemic in the country.
“We are now conducting an assessment and we have many planning teams doing the assessment… and we will present this coming Thursday, the phase of the plans. We have just finished phase 1 covering January to June. So, we are now preparing for July, September and October and going to December,” he said.
Galvez said several local government units (LGUs), including those under GCQ, prefer to retain the current restrictions or even be upgraded to the stricter enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) due to the continuing threat of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
One parish in Quezon City and another in the City of Manila are currently placed on temporary lockdown after several individuals tested positive for COVID-19.
In separate advisories, the Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Parish in Quezon City and the Santisima Trinidad Parish in Manila announced their temporary lockdown due to COVID-19.
In its advisory dated June 26, Santisima Trinidad Parish Priest Jojo Buenafe said they have decided to put the parish on lockdown in a bid to prevent the spread of the virus.
“We opted to lockdown our parish and its office in order to prevent the immediate spread of the disease,” said Buenafe, as he admitted that he and a staff member have been tested positive for COVID-19.
“I am currently under quarantine in my room and away from the other people in the convent. On the other hand, the staff member is confined and is recuperating at the San Juan de Dios Hospital,” said Buenafe.
He said they have already conducted contact tracing as well as other safety protocols mandated by the government.
Buenafe said they are also in coordination with the Ministry of Health Services of the Archdiocese of Manila for their medical needs.
Meanwhile, the Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Parish (OLMMP) in Quezon City also announced on June 25 that it will be on lockdown.
“It is with deep regret that we announce the temporary lockdown starting today, June 25, 2020 of our Parish Church for at least two weeks,” said the OLMMP.
The parish said the lockdown comes after one of their office staff tested positive for COVID-19.
“This temporary measure has been immediately decided and implemented, in addition to subsequent swab testing of parish personnel, for the protection of everyone,” said the OLMMP.
The parish said it has also scheduled the disinfecting of the church and its premises.
OLMMP also assured the faithful that they will continue with their online Masses during the two weeks lockdown. – With Gerard Naval