‘171 small areas’ in NCR COVID critical zones under granular lockdown

In a bid to contain the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) transmission, a total of ‘171 small areas’ in the National Capital Region (NCR) were placed under granular lockdown, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año said Sunday, Sept. 19.

“Sa tala ng PNP (Philippine National Police), 171 small areas sa Metro Manila ang nasa granular lockdown (Based on the record of the PNP, 171 small areas in Metro Manila are under granular lockdowns),’’ Año said in an interview on Super Radyo dzBB.

Earlier, Año explained that areas will be placed under granular lockdowns in ‘critical zones’ if there is clustering of COVID-19 cases and active transmission of the virus.

From Sept. 16 to 30, Metro Manila was placed under Alert Level 4, the second highest alert level in the new scheme where COVID-19 case counts are high or increasing while total beds and intensive care unit (ICU) beds are at high utilization rate.

On Sept. 17, DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya noted that a directive was issued by Año for the deployment and reactivation of the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) marshals and police and barangay disiplina (discipline) brigade to ensure the public strict compliance with the Alert Level System protocols.

He said that the order was issued in a bid to enhance the public’s observance to the minimum public health standards and ensure the effectiveness of the Alert Level System which is initially being implemented in NCR.

The Alert Level System will be implemented with the granular lockdowns in areas identified by the local government units (LGUs) to avert the further COVID-19 transmission.

Malaya stressed that the principle is to limit the granular lockdowns to small areas if possible in a single house which may trigger COVID-19 positive cases.

The DILG spokesperson added that the LGUs sometimes may decide to suddenly impose granular lockdowns in certain areas without any prior notice to prevent the residents from leaving the area which will be cordoned.

Under the Alert Level 4 System, Malaya said particular social events like but not limited to concerts, parties, wedding receptions, engagement parties, wedding anniversaries, debut and birthday parties, family reunions, bridal or baby showers, parades, processions, motorcades and gathering at residences with any persons outside their immediate household are prohibited.

On inquiries on lawful activities inside residences under the Alert Level System, Malaya revealed that videoke singing sessions are allowed among household members stressing that inviting neighbors, relatives and others from other places is prohibited.

During granular lockdowns, Malaya stressed that the Department of Health (DOH) provides testing kits to all the LGUs explaining that this is included in the protocol where active case findings, ramp-up and aggressive testing are done in lockdown areas.

When pressed if there are sufficient number of contact tracers, Malaya pointed out that there those hired by the LGUs that are fully deployed, those from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in its Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) program, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).

Malaya noted that the DILG has also renewed the contracts of 15,000 contact tracers up to December this year who are now dispatched in various localities in the country adding that the LGUs are tasked to supervise them. (Chito A. Chavez)