MANILA – The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has ordered all local government units (LGUs) to identify government facilities that may be used as quarantine areas for potential carriers of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
In a virtual presser aired on state-run PTV-4 on Friday night, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the Department of the Interior and Local Government was tasked to issue guidelines on the planned use of government establishments for quarantine and isolation purposes.
Nograles, also acting as IATF-EID spokesperson, said the task force approved the proposal on Friday.
“The local government units in the provincial, city, municipal, and barangay levels, as well as those in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, are hereby directed to identify government facilities that may be temporarily converted into isolation or quarantine facilities,” he said.
Nograles said government-owned and -controlled corporations were also directed to identify public facilities that may be tapped as temporary shelters for individuals suspected to be infected with Covid-19.
He added that the Department of Tourism and other government agencies were likewise directed to coordinate with entities under their respective regulatory authorities, as applicable in identifying facilities that may be temporarily designated for isolation or quarantine purposes.
“All identified facilities shall be reported to the National Task Force (NTF) on Covid-19 and the Task Group on Resource Management and Logistics,” Nograles said.
He noted that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) was directed to conduct site inspections and commence works on the identified facilities approved by the NTF Covid-19.
“For this purpose, the DPWH shall accredit construction workers who will work on facilities identified for purposes of quarantine or isolation. Such accredited workers shall be exempted from the strict home quarantine requirements,” he said.
Strict home quarantine must be observed by more than 53 million people living in Luzon after the island was placed under enhanced community quarantine.
Identification of social amelioration packages’ beneficiaries
Nograles said the IATF-EID also approved the joint memorandum circular of the departments of local government, budget, trade, social welfare, agriculture, tourism, and finance, which provides for special guidelines on the provisions of the government’s social amelioration program.
He said government agencies and LGUs were directed to submit their existing beneficiary databases to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
“The DSWD is further directed to host the database for the Covid-19 social amelioration program of the government,” Nograles said.
Identification of Covid-19 patients
The Philippines now has 803 confirmed Covid-19 cases, with 54 deaths and 31 recoveries.
Nograles said health facilities handling Covid-19 cases should seek permission from infected people if they are willing to disclose their identities to the public.
He said the move is subject to the rights of patients to withhold consent.
“All health facilities, whether public or private, are hereby directed to request for the consent of said patients for the public disclosure of their identities,” Nograles said.
Increased workforce in the food industry
An enhanced community quarantine in Luzon was imposed until April 12 to control the spread of Covid-19.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier directed the LGUs to help those affected by the Luzon-wide community quarantine, especially those who belong to the marginalized sector.
One member of each household is allowed to go outside of their home to buy essential goods.
Nograles said establishments involved in the production, manufacturing, packaging, processing, and distribution of food may operate at a maximum of 50 percent of their respective workforces, “unless the supply level of a basic food product warrants a higher capacity.”
He said law enforcement agencies and LGUs were directed to allow the “unimpeded” movement of food supply chain workers to and from their places of work, “subject to existing identification requirements.”
“In which case, the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) is hereby authorized to approve the increase of workforce capacity temporarily, provided that in all cases, all establishments shall be subject to strict social distancing requirements,” Nograles said.
He said the government is also encouraging the food industry to provide temporary accommodation to workers.
Nograles also noted that the departments of agriculture, finance, and trade were ordered to work with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) trading partners and encourage them to refrain from imposing trade-restrictive measures. (PNA)