IATF still mulling easing of quarantine, says DOH

Published September 23, 2020, 5:28 PM

by Analou de Vera

The easing of community quarantine restrictions in many areas of the country has yet to be decided on by the Interagency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-IED), the Department of Health (DOH) said. 


“Ito ay kailangan pa din pag-usapan sa Interagency Task Force. Meron tayong gamit na mga scientific na batayan para masabi natin kung anong level dapat ng quarantine status sa isang lugar. Antayin natin magdesisyon ang ating IATF regarding this matter [This still needs to be discussed with the Interagency Task Force. We are using scientific basis to determine what level of quarantine status an area should have. Let us wait for our IATF to decide regarding this matter],” said DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire. 

Recently, Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez said that the quarantine status of the  National Capital Region may be lowered to modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) by October as long as the public strictly observes the different health measures.

“Dito sa sinasabi ni Secretary Mon Lopez, ito po siguro ay base sa pananaw nya [With Secretary Mon Lopez’s statement, this is probably based on his point of view],” said Vergeire. 

“Kapag ginagawa ang decision na iyan, it is a collegial decision among all IATF members….Kailangan pag magbigay ng recommendation, comprehensive, in totality of the whole situation. And also, sa IATF, binibigay din ang social, security, economic implications bago makarating sa decision ang IATF with regards to easing of restrictions [When making that decision, it is a collegial decision among all IATF members…. It is necessary to give a recommendation, comprehensive, in totality of the whole situation. And also, the [members of the] IATF provides social, security, economic implications before the IATF reaches a decision with regards to easing of restrictions],” she added.

Critical care utilization rate 

Vergeire said that they are seeing improvements in the country’s critical care utilization rate.

She said the critical care utilization rate for Metro Manila went down from  67 percent on September  2 to 58 percent on September 20. For Calabarzon, it also went down from 59 percent on September 2 to 56 percent on September 20. 

“Sa Cebu, nakita natin talaga yung pagbaba and we were able to witness paano nila na decongest ang health system sa Cebu [In Cebu, we really saw the decline and we were able to witness how they decongest their health system]. Last September 2, they were at 38 percent, and now at 35 percent,” she said.

“If we try to look at this number, we can see yung gradual, kahit na unti-unti but we are slowly coping na nagkakaroon tayo ng pag decongest nung ating sistema, nagkakaroon tayo ng mas maraming kapasidad para maka accomodate ng pasyenteng nangangailangan for COVID-19 [If we try to look at these number, we can see the gradual decline, we are slowly decongesting the (health) system. We are having more capacity to accommodate patients with  COVID -19],” she furthered

“So this might not be a drastic improvement na talagang nakabalik tayo sa safe level natin [where we were able to return to safe levels] but at least, we are seeing improvements in our health system,” she added.

Vergeire attributed the improvements to the government’s One Hospital Command  that aims to help patients in looking for healthcare facilities that can accommodate them; the hospitals’ compliance to increase their dedicated beds for COVID-19 patients; and the  Oplan Kalinga that aims to transfer mild patients to temporary treatment and monitoring facilities.