Sat. Sep 18th, 2021

The government has activated a crisis action plan to contain and stop the spread of the Delta variant.

(Photo Courtesy: Arab News)

“Our Crisis Action Plan’s mission shall be the implementation of contingency operations in preparation for and response to an exponential increase in Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) cases due to the emergence of new variants at the national level,” National Task Force (NTF) against Covid-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., said.

These contingency operations are implemented to defer and respond to the threat posed by “new Covid-19 variants of concern,” Galvez added.

The crisis action plan is aligned with the National Action Plan Phase 4 and focuses on the enhanced implementation of the Prevent, Detect, Isolate, Treat, Reintegrate, plus Vaccinate (PDITR+V) strategy, as well as the four-door strategy of stricter border control, heightened surveillance, quick response, and focus and expand mass vaccination.

“As we speak, and even as the variants of concern, such as the Delta variant, were being discovered, the NTF and IATF (and Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging and Infectious Diseases) have already been taking actions. Many of these are preparations for the implementation of contingency measures,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said.

According to Vergeire, the early implementation of the four-door strategy, specifically Door 1 (point of origin) and Door 2 (point of entry) has “delayed” the entry of the Delta variant.

Such measures as travel bans and restrictions, as well as screening, quarantine, and testing at the point of entry, were able to minimize the entry and spread of the Delta variant.

“Now that the country has detected local cases of the Delta variant, Doors 3 and 4 are being activated. Door 3 would involve strengthening the implementation of the PDITR strategies to prevent further local transmission, while Door 4 will prepare and ensure that our health care capacity is ready for a wide-scale community transmission by enhancing our PDITR+ strategies,” Vergeire added.

Galvez said the formulation of the action plan also involved restructuring the NTF for greater synergy between policy and operations.

While the initial operational setup of the task force involved only three clusters – vaccine, response and recovery – it has been expanded to include the response cluster with communities, health facilities and borders sub-clusters to activate community-level 2 response efforts, increase health care capacities, and create buffer supplies in all levels while strengthening external and internal borders.

“The restructuring of our operational setup is aligned with the four-door strategy and part of our preemptive measures against the Delta variant. This allows us to intensify our response efforts and be more coherent in the delivery of services as we anticipate an increase in cases caused by the Delta or any variants of concern,” Galvez explained.

He said corresponding measures are being carried out by the different NTF clusters and sub-clusters as each door is being activated.

Strict border control through travel restrictions, monitoring of all points of entry, and minimized interzonal and intrazonal movement have been implemented since Door 1 was activated.

Meanwhile, heightened surveillance is being carried out during the activation of Door 2. This includes active case finding, securing the capacity of all laboratories nationwide, and building capacities for whole genome sequencing through satellite centers.

As the government activates Doors 3 and 4, the task force is now capable of carrying out a quick response at all levels through different Emergency Operations Centers and One Hospital Command Centers at the national and regional levels.Galvez underscored that the vaccination program will continue as part of the interventions in managing the highly transmissible variants of Covid-19.

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