Medical community now part of COVID containment panel

Representatives from different medical societies will now be part of a government-led technical panel on efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles disclosed on Wednesday.


As the government recognized “a whole of nation approach” to address the public health emergency, Nograles said the medical professionals could present their recommendations, suggestions, and findings to the working group led by the Department of Health (DOH).

The panel report will then be submitted to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Infectious Diseases and President Duterte.

"Because the President listened to the sentiment of the health workers, there will be a working group of the Department of Health and different medical societies. We have a mechanism to give the medical societies an avenue to raise their different recommendations to the DOH, IATF, and President Duterte)," he said during the online "Kapihan sa Manila Bay" forum Wednesday.

“The enhancement we are doing now is the different medical societies, their representatives are now part of this working group with the DOH so they can also voice out their concerns, and more importantly, their recommendations,” he added.

He said the DOH-led working group is expected to discuss the state of the health workforce, contact tracing and isolation protocols, transportation and workplace safety, testing efforts, and the involvement of the private sector.  

The proactive behavior change campaign, active case finding, and early isolation and referrals of health facilities will also be tackled.

He said the panel is expected to submit its recommendations to the IATF on Thursday.

The inclusion of the medical professionals in the DOH panel came after President Duterte granted their plea to a timeout to reimpose strict lockdown for two weeks to stem the surge in coronavirus infections.

The medical community earlier conceded the country was waging a losing battle against coronavirus and called for a refinement of pandemic containment measures to prevent a collapse of the health care system.

Acting on the appeal of the health frontliners, the government placed Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal under the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) from August 4 to 18. It also committed to step up efforts to test, trace, isolate, and treat patients with the coronavirus illness.

Nograles said the President listened to the appeal of the medical community, not necessarily "caved in" to their demands. He said the government cannot fight the pandemic alone and must employ a multisectoral approach to address it.