Malacañang said the government’s coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic task force will soon meet to discuss the suggestion of local chief executives to suspend its policy that allowed kids aged five and up to leave their homes.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after the mayors of Metro Manila agreed to appeal to the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to suspend the said policy due to the surge in cases and the threat of the Delta variant.
In his press briefing on Wednesday, July 21, Roque said the IATF will meet on Thursday to discuss the matter, saying it was difficult to neglect the suggestions of local government units (LGUs).
“Napakahirap balewalain ang mga suhestiyon ng mga alkalde na nagpapatupad po ng IATF policies (It’s very difficult to neglect the suggestions of mayors because they are the ones implementing IATF policies),” he said.
“Ang alam ko po nag-meeting na ang mga dalubhasa, magkakaroon sila ng recommendation pero sa Huwebes gagawin ang IATF meeting tungkol dito sa bagay na ito (From what I know, the experts already met and will have their recommendation. But the IATF will meet on Thursday to discuss this),” he added.
Early this month, the IATF allowed kids at least the age of five to leave their homes and go to specific outdoor sites in areas under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) and GCQ.
In a radio interview, Roque said the IATF decided to allow children outside because being stuck inside their homes for more than a year would not be good for their physical and mental wellbeing.
Last week, President Duterte approved placing four areas under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) until the end of the month due to a surge of COVID-19 cases. This came the same day the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed the local transmission of the Delta variant.
Despite the report of the local transmission of the dreaded strain, Roque said on Wednesday that the IATF will continue to rely on data if it were to tighten restrictions because controlling the spread of COVID-19 was as important as looking out for the welfare of the people.
“Babantayan pa rin natin ang (We will still monitor the) [average] daily attack rate, two-week attack rate, at ang (and the) healthcare utilization rate. Ang ating sinusulong po ay ang total health (What we are promoting now is the total health),” he said.
“Importante po na makontrol natin, mapabagal natin ang pagkalat ng COVID-19 pero importante ring mabawasan natin ang hanay ng mga nagugutom dahil po sa lockdowns (It’s important that we control and slow down the spread of COVID-19 but it’s also important that we decrease the number of people going hungry because of the lockdowns),” he added.
Meanwhile, Roque said that if ever there would be a need for stricter quarantine classifications, their implementation would either be granular or localized.