MANILA – The member agencies of the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases are formulating sector-specific plans, strategies, and targets to intensify the country’s response to the coronavirus disease (Civid-19) crisis, a ranking official said.
National Task Force (NTF) Covid-19 chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., also the presidential peace adviser, said local government units (LGUs) were given a directive to facilitate regional and provincial cooperation to better contain the spread of Covid-19.
Under IATF Resolution No. 25, he said, new guidelines for the implementation of quarantine measures will “adopt a national-government-enabled, LGU-led, and people-centered response to the Covid-19 health event.”
“With this new directive, LGUs can exchange ideas, plans, and strategies on effective ways to prevent the spread of the Covid-19, or it could be by sharing LGUs’ best practices,” he said in a virtual press briefing on Tuesday.
Galvez said the resolution stated that the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) are tasked to enter a data-sharing agreement (DSA) under Republic Act No. 10173 or the Data Privacy Act.
“The DILG along with the LGUs will lead the conduct of the contact-tracing in the communities,” he said, noting that the LGUs have the capacity “to identify possible Covid-19 clusters” in their areas.
He said LGU’s health resiliency is crucial to strengthening the fight against the dreaded virus.
“As we’ve said before, the localization of the implementation of the National Action Plan against Covid-19 at the regional, provincial, municipal, city and barangay levels is the key to beat Covid-19,” he added.
Effective quarantine measures
Meanwhile, Galvez cited the research conducted by the University of the Philippines Research Institute (UPRI), citing the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in helping curb the spread of the contagion.
“According to UP Professor Mahar Lagmay in an interview, there is a possibility that NCR (National Capital Region) may reach the so-called ‘peak’ if we will base it on the rate or the number of new infections,” he said, saying the same thing might happen to those provinces, cities, and municipalities under community quarantine.
He added that Lagmay and Dr. Ted Herbosa, UP Executive Vice President and National Task Force on Covid-19 Medical Adviser, have also warned that the “rate of new infection” may climb by shortly lifting the ECQ.
“It also suggested that any decision made by the government should be in accordance with a “science-based model,” he cited.
Testing kits, facilities, PPE
Galvez said suspected Covid-19 cases, health workers and those most vulnerable members of society including the elderly, pregnant women and immuno-compromised individuals were prioritized in the “localized and targeted testing” nationwide, which already started on April 14.
The “targeted massive testing”, he said, has provided the task force a holistic assessment of the public health situation in the country.
On the other hand, Galvez said the Covid-19 testing laboratory of the Philippine National Red Cross (PRC) is now operational and could accommodate more or less 12,000 tests per day.
The government, he said, targets more or less 2 million individuals to be tested.
“This plan will provide the government the critical data and analysis to help address the crisis brought about by Covid-19,” he added.
Galvez said 52,837 individuals have already been tested as of this posting.
He said the first batch out of the 900,000 PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing kits and 2 million rapid testing kits being procured are expected to arrive this week.
There are 3,052 quarantine facilities that have already been established nationwide, he said, which can cater to about 211,474 suspected and mild Covid-19 patients.
He said the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) will provide health packages for Covid-19 patients who had been confirmed positive and admitted not later than April 15.
Galvez added that several medical supports, including personal protective equipment (PPE) sets for health workers, are regularly transported and distributed to all private and public hospitals nationwide, to ensure their safety from the risks of the dreaded virus.
Philippine Air Force (PAF) personnel, he said, are tasked to transport the protective gear embarking a C-130 plane, which will depart twice a day.
He said this would double the hauling capacity of PPE suits (so) that the medical workers will be ensured of the “stockpiling and strategic reserve” of protective gear.
Health crisis response
Galvez assured that the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) are continuously monitoring the stable prices of commodities, including enough supplies of agricultural products and other essential food items.
Policies on suggested retail price (SRP) and price freeze are imposed nationwide, Galvez said.
He said the government continues to strengthen the quarantine measures along with the national action plan.
The implementation of the “locate, test, isolate, cure strategy” will curb down the numbers of new Covid-19 cases and deaths in the country. (IA/SovereignPH.com/PNA)