Duterte orders IATF to address concerns of medical frontliners

Published August 1, 2020, 5:06 PM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

President Duterte has ordered the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to quickly act on the concerns of medical frontliners who appealed to place Mega Manila back under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque (PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after the medical community appealed to the President to revert Mega Manila to ECQ as the number of COVID-19 cases in the country continues to rise.

“The health sector cannot hold the line for much longer,” the medical frontliners wrote in their letter to the President.

“We propose that the two-week ECQ be used as a ‘time out’ to refine our (COVID-19) pandemic control strategies, addressing urgent problems,” they added.

In a statement, Roque said Duterte has heard of the call of the medical community and has ordered the IATF to “act on these concerns immediately” since they are important in the battle against the pandemic.

“The Palace considers our skilled, tireless, and dedicated healthcare workers as important frontliners in the battle against COVID-19. We are grateful for their immense contributions to heal our people and our nation during these difficult times,” he said.

“Your voices have been heard. We cannot afford to let down our modern heroes. This is our commitment,” he added.

According to Roque, the IATF will again discuss the suggestion of the medical community.

Duterte has decided to keep Metro Manila under the general community quarantine (GCQ) until Aug. 15.

In an earlier statement, Roque, reacting to the letter by the medical community, said the strict lockdown in Metro Manila has served its purpose, and it was now time to intensify other strategies like localized lockdowns.

He said other measures that LGUs must implement include the stringent enforcement of minimum public health standards; massive targeted testing, intensified tracing, and quarantine of close contacts; and strict adherence to the implementation of “Oplan: Kalinga” for isolation of confirmed cases.

According to Roque, the government is scaling up the country’s hospital capacity by increasing allocation of COVID-dedicated beds while hiring more doctors, nurses, and medical-personnel since the Palace knows that community quarantine is not enough.

In their letter, the medical frontliners said they are waging a losing battle against COVID-19 and stressed that a definitive plan of action is needed to better address the situation.

In his televised address aired Friday, Duterte, however, admitted that he had no plan and he only had one when the updates on the China-made COVID-19 vaccine reached his table.

The other concerns of the medical frontliners are:

  • Hospital workforce deficiency.
  • Failure of case finding and isolation.
  • Failure of contact tracing and quarantine.
  • Transportation safety.
  • Workplace safety.
  • Public compliance with self-protection.
  • Social amelioration.

Read more: Medical groups urge gov’t to place NCR under ECQ anew