Malacañang said that while it is important to contain the spread COVID-19 in the country, it reiterated that it is important to balance the community quarantine which is vital in revitalizing the economy.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after medical professionals on Saturday called for Mega Manila – which includes the National Capital Region, Central Luzon, and Calabarzon – to revert back to the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in order to reconfigure strategies in dealing with the pandemic.
In a statement, Roque acknowledged that the extended GCQ in Metro Manila has been a subject of debate and discussion by the members of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
“The Palace understands the delicate balancing act between public health and the economic health of the nation given that Metro Manila and CALABARZON make up 67 percent of our economy,” he said.
However, he said the strict lockdown in Metro Manila has served its purpose, and it was now time to intensify other strategies.
“It is for this reason that the local government units (LGUs) of Metro Manila have been directed to implement a strict localized lockdown/ECQ in barangays where 80 percent of cases are located and the publication of these barangays,” he said.
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 healthcare system since community quarantine is not enough to control COVID-19.
“Community quarantine alone, we repeat, is an insufficient response in controlling COVID-19. We are scaling up hospital capacity by increasing allocation of COVID-dedicated beds while hiring more doctors, nurses, and medical-personnel,” he said.
“We are also engaging the community through risk communication, social mobilization and advocacy to observe the minimum public health standards of wearing a mask, washing of hands, and keeping a physical distance,” he added.
Despite this, Roque said the IATF is always open to suggestions and they will discuss them in future meetings.
“We welcome comments of various stakeholders and we will include them in future IATF meetings,” he said.
President Duterte kept Metro Manila under the GCQ until Aug. 15 despite the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the country. To date, the country has reported 93,354 cases.