Mon, 10 Aug 2020

Philippines capital weighs up health, economic priorities

Philippine Information Agency
30 Jun 2020, 19:06 GMT+10

CALOOCAN CITY, June 30 (PIA) -- Metro Manila, the region that accounts for the majority of the COVID-19 cases in the country, is unlikely to revert back to more stringent enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), according to a World Health Organization (WHO) representative.

During Tuesday's Laging Handa public briefing powered by the Presidential Communications and affilate media, WHO Country Representative Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe said Metro Manila, which is composed of 16 cities and one municipality, will likely remain under the less restrictive general community quarantine (GCQ) partly due to economic reasons.

"We don't believe that the situation in the Metro requires a reversal," Abeyasinghe said of the most densely populated region in the Philippines with some 13-million residents. Two of its most populous cities, meanwhile, the City of Manila and Quezon City, have so far recorded 280 and 364 COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks, respectively.

"We recognize the impact of this outbreak not only on health but also on the economy," he added, explaining that it is within the recommendations by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) that there is a provision for implementing "localized lockdowns."

To recall, the IATF-EID is a government task force organized by the President to respond to affairs concerning emerging infectious disease in the Philippines. A localized lockdown, on the other hand, is the implementation of a graduated activation of ECQ depending on the level of risk in a certain area, or how close or far an area is to an estimated outbreak threshold at a given time.

"Where we are seeing an upsurge in cases within the NCR and some localized cities or barangays, there is a need to make use those provisions to suppress further transmissions," Abeyasinghe explained.

"Overall, what is most important is the feeling we get that people coming out from lockdown forget that they need to still need to maintain physical distancing, proper hygiene," he added.

"As we go back, as we are striving to get our economy back, it is critical that we recognize that the threat of this disease has not gone away and that we all have the responsibility beyond the responsibility that the government took in locking down to continue to follow those simple measures of good public health so that we can make it difficult for this virus to spread," he further said. (PIA NCR)

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