AS the country may shift to a more relaxed quarantine status on March 1, Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III urged the local government units (LGUs) to be on alert and boost further their surveilance capacity to prevent further spikes in cases, especially in the National Capital Region (NCR).
Duque also expressed confidence that the LGUs are ready for the implementation of modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) following their one-year experience in battling Covid-19.
Asked during the Laging Handa press briefing for the reason behind the uptick in cases especially in NCR, Duque blamed the non-compliance with minimum public health standards like wearing of face mask, face shield, physical distancing and frequent hand washing.
Duque however, said that they have yet to determine if the increase in cases is due to the B1.1.7 variant or the UK variant.
“We still don’t have enough data to prove that it is because of the UK variant…we need to wait for two weeks and look into the data,” Duque said.
He said the matter is already being looked into by the University of the Philippines-Philippine Genome Center (UP-PGC), UP-National Institutes of Health (NIH), and Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.
However, according to OCTA Research team, the huge contributor to this reported increase was Pasay City, where a 203-percent spike in infections in the last three days was noted.
OCTA said that from the 28-daily average recorded from February 11 to 17, the city recorded an average of 86 cases daily from February 18 to 20.
While the National Capital Region (NCR) has negative growth rate, eight cities have been showing increase in cases: Valenzuela, Pasay, Malabon, Pasig, Makati, Navotas, Las Piñas, Manila. Still the health-care utility rate remains in “safe zone.”
Duque also urged the LGUs to immediately implement a localized lockdown if there is a high number of cases reported in “barangays, sitios, streets, or compound.”
“It is no longer good to implement a nationwide lockdown,” Duque said.
Over the weekend, the Pasay City government placed restrictions on 33 barangays and one business establishment for 14 days due to the spike in Covid cases.
According to City Administrator Atty. Dennis Acorda, Mayor Emi Calixto-Rubiano wants barangays with 3 or more cases locked down to contain the virus.
Acorda said the Philippine National Police and Barangay Officials will be augmented by members of the City Environment and Natural Resources Office, the Tricycle-Pedicab Franchising and Regulatory Office, and the Traffic and Parking Management Office to enforce IATF protocols.
They will be deputized to issue citations to violators of health and safety rules.
The Business Permits and Licensing Office (BPLO) inspection teams will also check on establishments’ compliance with IATF protocols. Public markets will also be deputized to inspect stalls and enforce health protocols.
“Let’s strictly follow the E.M.I habit [Ensure to wash your hands, Mask is a must. Implement physical distancing],” Acorda said.