MANILA – As the Philippines recorded its first local transmission of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año called on barangay officials to activate their respective barangay health emergency response teams (BHERTs) that would help monitor and contain the disease at the local level.
Año said a lockdown of areas with known cases of Covid-19 is not recommended for now but active surveillance at the community level is necessary.
“Hindi natin nire-recommend ‘yung lockdown kasi darating lang tayo sa ganyang cases kapag naging tuluy-tuloy ‘yung local transmission sa isang community (We don’t recommend a lockdown because that is usually done when cases of local transmission become continuous in a community),” he said.
In February, the DILG ordered barangays to form BHERTs to address the Covid-19 outbreak.
“Ang importante sa ngayon ‘yung tinatawag nating active surveillance sa mga tao na ito at sana rin ‘yung mga family members, community volunteer the information para makaresponde ‘yung ating LGUs especially ‘yung BHERTs na tinatawag natin (The important thing to do now is active surveillance from the public, including family members, community volunteers so that local government units, especially BHERTs, can respond),” he added.
Año urged barangay officials to activate the BHERTs composed of an executive officer, a barangay tanod, and two barangay health workers.
Some of the team’s responsibilities include monitoring through home visitation of arriving passengers from a coronavirus-infected country within the locality and ensuring that all residents are accounted for.
Amid the disease’s continuing threat, Año urged the public not to panic as he assured that the government is prepared to contain it.
“Huwag tayo matakot dito sa coronavirus kasi kaya naman natin mapaghandaan. Ang importante dito ‘yung personal hygiene. Tapos ‘yung facial masks, kung meron kang nararamdaman, magsuot ka ng maskara at kung merong umuubo dyan kailangan meron ka na rin talagang mask. Huwag tayo magpadala sa takot (Let us not fear because we are prepared for this. What’s important is personal hygiene and use of masks when you are sick),” he said in a radio interview Monday.
On Sunday, the Department of Health confirmed that there are now 10 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country and 41 patients under investigation who are currently admitted to hospitals.
Of these confirmed cases, the first known local transmission of the virus is an elderly man and his wife who frequented an Islamic prayer hall at Greenhills in San Juan City.
Following the first reported case of local transmission, the DOH has placed the country under Covid-19 Alert System to Code Red sublevel 1 to prepare national and local governments and the country’s health care providers for possible increases in suspected and confirmed cases of the disease.
Año directed LGUs in the National Capital Region to activate their local Covid-19 task forces to aid in monitoring and preventing the spread of the disease in the communities.
Most of the confirmed cases of Covid-19 are in the National Capital Region.
“Local transmissions pose greater chances for the virus to spread and that’s the last thing we want to happen. I ordered NCR LGUs to activate their LCTF o local Covid-19 task force to prevent the situation from escalating,” he said.
Meanwhile, Marikina City Mayor Marcelino Teodoro confirmed on Monday the first case of Covid-19 in the city involving an 86-year-old male resident who recently traveled to South Korea. The case was one of the four confirmed by the DOH on Sunday.
Teodoro ordered the suspension of classes in all levels, both private and public, to conduct disinfection activities in schools. He said he would also issue a memorandum for the strict compliance of disinfection particularly in schools, malls, and other public spaces.
On Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte issued Proclamation 922 declaring a state of public health emergency amid the surge in Covid-19 cases in the country. (PNA)