Año sets requirements for LGUs’ localized lockdowns

Published June 9, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Chito Chavez

Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo M. Año clarified on Tuesday that the local government units (LGUs) can impose localized lockdowns provided that these are coordinated with their respective Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF).

A makeshift barricade blocks a street from outsiders to protect a neighbourhood from the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Manila, March 23, 2020. (REUTERS/Eloisa / MANILA BULLETIN)

In a press briefing, Año explained that the localized lockdowns might be imposed on target areas with surges of COVID-19 cases “in a span of seven days’’.

At present, Año noted that the IATF has carefully scrutinized the COVID-19 trends and relevant data in Metro Manila to prevent an outbreak.

“Ang Metro Manila ay under general community quarantine (GCQ) at yung ibang lugar sa Luzon ay maari na may modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) (Metro Manila is under general community quarantine (GCQ) and some areas in Luzon are likely under the modified general community quarantine (MGCQ)” but in Metro Manila we have to look at the data closely, we don’t want to do anything wrong, that would lead to another outbreak,’’ Año said.

Earlier, Año said the LGUs which impose localized lockdowns must organize quick response teams (QRTs) that carry out the test-trace-treat strategy against COVID-19.

“By imposing localized lockdowns in specific areas within their jurisdiction, LGUs must have already organized their QRTs which shall swiftly and efficiently assist in the proper management of the COVID-19 situation in those areas,” said Año.

While the Interagency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) has given LGUs the authority to impose localized lockdowns, Año maintained that “the imposition comes with the responsibility to implement the strategy to contain the disease in the lockdown areas as well as implement social amelioration to alleviate the conditions of those affected’’.

“Imposing a localized lockdown comes with it several responsibilities. LGUs must be ready to enforce stringent health protocols, aggressively conduct contact tracing, testing, and isolation to contain and prevent the spread COVID-19 in the lockdown areas, among others,” he added.

He explained that the QRTs that will be organized in areas under localized lockdown should include health promotion and prevention Team (for syndromic surveillance); disinfection teams; swabbing teams; contact tracing teams; medical evacuation teams; law and order teams; Barangay Health Emergency Response Team (BHERTS) and social amelioration support teams.

He added the said teams should be stationed at the Municipal/City Level Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

Each LGU must also have available data on population, number of barangays, population density per barangay, quarantine facilities, treatment facilities, mapping of cases, syndrome surveillance, and testing kits before actual implementation of the localized lockdown.

The DILG chief said that section 2 of Executive Order 112 authorizes the provincial governors to impose, lift or extend community quarantine in component cities and municipalities, while mayors may exercise the same authority in barangays.

He noted that the provincial governors have the power to declare localized lockdowns in cities and municipalities in areas with 10 or more new clusters of cases; a surge of new sporadic cases within the last 14 days; and incidence of suspected and probable cases.

On the other hand, city/municipal mayors can implement localized lockdowns in buildings, business establishments, markets, streets, and blocks if there are an initial number of cases identified and clustering of cases; in subdivisions, puroks, barangays with two or more cases in seven days and incidence of suspected and probable cases; and in a cluster of barangays and districts if there are two or more new clusters of cases and incidence of suspected and probable cases.

“Such decisions should have the concurrence of the regional IATF. Meaning, the mayor must consult with the RIATF before imposing a localized lockdown,” said Año.

Año stressed “that the country can now ill afford to place entire regions under ECQ again because the government has to keep the balance between containing and preventing the spread of COVID-19 and mitigating the social, economic and security impacts of the pandemic crisis’’.

“Our approach now are localized and surgical lockdowns since we have been able to flatten the curve already,” said Año.

“We want our LGUs to take the lead role and assume greater responsibility in the fight against COVID-19 since they can better assess the prevailing conditions in their respective areas and since they have been given sufficient financial resources by the national government,” he ended.