Granular lockdowns to safeguard MM when quarantine eases, DOH says

By Noreen Jazul & Analou de Vera

The Department of Health said the implementation of granular lockdowns, coupled with active case finding and improvement of health system capacity, will safeguard Metro Manila “if and when” the government decides to ease quarantine measures after Aug. 18.

A resident rides her bicycle past armed soldiers along a street in Navotas in suburban Manila on July 16, 2020, after the local government reimposed a lockdown in the city due to increased COVID-19 infections. (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

In an interview with ANC Thursday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the DoH is already guiding local government units on how the granular lockdown should be enforced.

"Our safeguard, if and when, the government would decide that we will be easing out on these restrictions would be these granular lockdowns that we are now guiding LGUs with," said Vergeire.

A granular lockdown means identifying specific or smaller areas experiencing spikes in COVID-19 cases and restricting the movement of the people.

Vergeire noted that recent cases in the country are “being identified in specific areas” or communities.

“When we try to look at our data the number of clustering in the communities is increasing,” she said.

The DoH recently bared its new strategy called CODE or the "Coordinated Operations to Defeat the Epidemic" to curb the rising number of COVID-19 cases.

The Health agency said that the key components of CODE are community engagement activities to promote preventive behaviors; house-to-house symptom checks as a means of active case finding; testing by RT-PCR of those with symptoms, and assist those that require quarantine and isolation.

Vergeire said the government should review the safeguards and strategies being implemented in fighting the pandemic before it decides on whether to ease quarantine measures in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

The DoH official underscored that all sides of the coin must be looked at before easing restrictions.

“We have to look at different factors. (There’s) the number of cases, how the transmission is going on and then the capacity of the health system,” Vergeire said.

“But we have to look at the other side of the coin as well. We have to look at the economic side, and our economic managers are already saying that if we push through and extend MECQ (modified enhanced community quarantine) in Metro Manila or in other parts of the country, a lot of people would suffer from hunger already and other diseases would also be evident,” she said.