NTF, IATF activate crisis action plan vs COVID-19 variants

Published August 7, 2021, 2:54 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

To address the new threats posed by the emerging variants of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), a new crisis action plan was launched by the national government’s task forces that are overseeing the country’s pandemic response.

Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., vaccine czar and chief implementer of National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 (File photo/ MANILA BULLETIN)

The National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging and Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) activated the new crisis action plan to ensure the “more effective containment and mitigation” of highly-transmissible COVID-19 strains such as the Delta variant, said vaccine czar and NTF chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. on Friday, August 5.

According to Galvez, the crisis action plan was aligned with the National Action Plan (NAP) Phase IV which focuses on the enhanced implementation of the PDITR plus Vaccinate (PDITR+V) strategy.

The NAP is the overall strategy of the government to contain COVID-19 and it has four phases: Phase I which was implemented from March to June 2020; Phase II from July to September 2020; Phase III from October 2020 to June 2021; and Phase IV from July 2021 to December 2021.

Meanwhile, PDITR refers to prevent, detect, isolate, treat, and reintegrate strategy of the government to contain COVID-19 which was formulated during the implementation of NAP Phase II. It is still being implemented now but with an added layer of response which is the mass vaccination, hence, PDITR+V.

Further, Galvez said the crisis action plan also entails the enforcement of the “Four Door Strategy” to ensure strict border control, heightened surveillance, quick response, and “focus and expand” mass vaccination strategies.

The Four Door strategy refers to — quite literally — four layers or “doors” of protection to prevent the entry and spread of variants that originated from other countries.

Door 1 refers to identifying the point of origin while Door 2 seeks to determine the point of entry of the variants, particularly the highly transmissible Delta from India.

Measures such as travel bans and restrictions as well as screening, quarantine, and testing at the point of entry were already being enhanced to minimize the entry and spread of the Delta variant and other virus mutations, Galvez said.

Meanwhile, Door 3 and Door 4 refers to measures to address the local transmission of the variants in the communities.

Door 3 involves “strengthening the implementation of the PDITR strategies” to prevent further local transmission while Door 4 will “prepare and ensure that the country’s healthcare capacity is ready for a wide-scale community transmission by enhancing the PDITR+V strategy,” according to Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

“Our Crisis Action Plan’s mission shall be the implementation of contingency operations in preparation for and response to an exponential increase in COVID-19 cases due to the emergence of new variants at the national level,” Galvez said.

“These contingency operations are implemented to defer, and respond to the threat posed by new COVID-19 variants of concern,” he added.

The contingency measures were being conducted amid the Delta-driven surge of infections which forced the national government to implement enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the strictest form of lockdown, in NCR, Laguna, Iloilo City, and Cagayan de Oro.