Prompt localized lockdowns to contain COVID pressed

Local government units in Metro Manila and nearby provinces must be "quick enough" to impose localized lockdowns to contain the surge in coronavirus cases in a bid to minimize the adjustment of region-wide community quarantine levels, according to a Palace official Thursday.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the government can reduce the disruption of economic activities if the prompt lockdown measures are limited at the local level.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Infectious Diseases (IATF) recently held meetings with the mayors of Metro Manila as well as local officials from Region 4-A to remind them on the need for swift action in limit the spread of the disease following the surge of infections.

"They have to be the ones to be quick enough, and not wait for the IATF to be the one to impose the community quarantines. Dahil sa Phase 2 ng National Action Plan, ang LGUs na ang mag-step up dito (Because under the Phase 2 of the National Action Plan, the local government units must step up)," Nograles said over ANC's Headstart.

Under the government's action plan , Nograles said they prefer localized lockdowns so "hindi tayo pabago-bago ng (so we won't always change the) community quarantine on a regional basis so the economy can continue to thrive."

"As much as possible, the locality can already implement the community quarantine so that we don't need to change the general community quarantine in that area or in that region so much the better to ensure less disruption in the economy, less disruption in the region," he said.

As of July 22, more than 72,000 people have been infected by the coronavirus in the country. The country has recorded 1,843 deaths and 23,623 recoveries.

The country is largely under the modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), the least restrictive lockdown imposed by the government, until the end of the month.

Cebu City has downgraded to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) from the most stringent enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). Metro Manila, however, has stayed under the general community quarantine (GCQ) and may revert to stricter lockdown if its coronavirus data does not improve, Malacanang said recently.

Other areas under GCQ are Laguna, Cavite, Rizal, Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City, Ormoc City, Southern Leyte, Zamboanga City, Butuan City, Agusan del Norte, Basilan, Talisay City, and Minglanilla and Consolacion in Cebu.

According to Nograles, the national case doubling rate now ranges 8.5 days. "We are seeing an increase in the number of cases for NCR and neighboring provinces, that's CALABARZON," he said.

He said the local officials must be "fast" to assess the transmission risk of a barangay or specific area and impose the necessary lockdown.

"Kami sa IATF, we will look at general numbers. If we see general numbers are not so good and we run it by our modeling, at tumama sa any of categories na kailangan itaas ang community quarantine, then we will have to apply that  circuit breaker," he said.

He said the government is determined the balance public health and need to reopen the economy amid the pandemic.