MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) on Saturday said it is in talks with the country’s medical community as the latter called for a “time out” and the shift of Metro Manila back to enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

Meanwhile, coronavirus cases in the country rose to 98,232 on Saturday after the DOH confirmed 4,963 new infections, the highest in a single day so far.

Active cases stay at 30,928, the net of reported recoveries and deaths.

“We are currently in dialogue with our medical front-liners to discuss the best steps forward, and in so doing, we will ensure to strike a balance among all the important factors that we have to take into account,” the DOH said in a statement.

In a joint letter, several medical societies asked the Duterte administration to declare Metro Manila under ECQ from August 1 to 15 to “recalibrate strategies” against Covid-19.

“Health care workers are united in sounding off a distress signal to the nation – our health care system has been overwhelmed,” the letter posted at the Philippine College of Physicians page read.

The medical workers said the government should use the two-week ECQ as a “time out” to address several issues, including those on case finding and isolation, contact tracing, hospital workforce deficiency, transportation and workplace safety, and public compliance with self-protection.

“We understand that imposing an enhanced community quarantine is a complex decision. Though health may be just one dimension, let us remember that we need healthy people to reinvigorate our economy,” the health workers said. “The health sector cannot hold the line for much longer. Our health workers should not bear the burden of deciding who lives and who dies. If the health system collapse(s), it is ultimately our people who are most compromised.”

In its statement, the DOH said it acknowledges the sacrifices medical front-liners have made since the health crisis began.

It also supported their call for the proper enforcement of community quarantines amid the spike in confirmed Covid-19 cases.

“We support the call of our front-liners to ensure appropriate implementation of community quarantines to ensure the protection of our health workers, but while the government is taking the necessary actions to address the situation, we emphasize that it is also the duty of every citizen to ensure that our health system is not overwhelmed,” the DOH said. (PNA)