COVID-19 surge to be met by more health workers, vaccines, testing kits

Published May 24, 2021, 3:39 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The government will closely guard provinces with reported surge in coronavirus cases, readying contingency plans to deploy more testing kits, vaccines, and possibly health workers to help slow down the transmission.

A resident of Paranaque gets vaccinated at a vaccination site inside a mall in Paranaque City on May 18, 2021. (Ali Vicoy/Manila Bulletin)

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the government may also apply the “Cebu formula” where additional health workers can be deployed to boost the frontliners in areas with high cases of infections.

Roque issued the remarks after Iloilo City has escalated to the more restrictive modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) from May 23 to May 31 to curb the rise in COVID-19 cases. The provinces of Apayao, Benguet, and Cagayan will also stay under MECQ until the end of the month based on the recent decision of the government task force in charge of addressing the pandemic.

Other places under MECQ until May 31 are Santiago City in Isabela, Quirino, Ifugao, and Zamboanga City.

“Bantay naman talaga sarado ng DOH (Department of Health) at IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases). Bukod sa higher classification, nandiyan ‘yung mga additional testing na puwedeng ipadala doon, ‘yung additional vaccines na puwedeng ipadala sa mga lugar na ito (These areas are being closely guarded by the DOH and IATF. Apart from higher classification, additional testing could be deployed there. Additional vaccines could also be delivered to these areas),” Roque said during a televised press briefing Monday, May 24.

“At siyempre learning from the experience of Cebu, kung talagang nagkukulang ang health professionals, a-apply din natin ang Cebu formula at magpapadala rin tayo ng temporary health professionals to reinforce our medical frontliners in these areas (And of course learning from the experience of Cebu, if there is a shortage of health professionals, we will apply the Cebu formula and send temporary health professionals to reinforce our medical frontliners in these areas),” he added.

To places reportedly seeking a higher risk classification due to case spike, Roque said the quarantine classification of an area is immediately escalated if the two-week growth rate, daily attack rate of coronavirus cases as well as healthcare utilization rate would reach critical level. He noted that such decision-making process is fast to effectively stem the spread of the virus.

As of May 23, the country has recorded 1.179 million coronavirus cases including 50,635 active cases and 19,951 deaths.