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MGCQ dependent on LGUs 

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Determining the quarantine classification to be imposed on an area or region should depend on the preparedness of local government units (LGUs) to manage the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Department of Health (DOH) in a report by Philippine Star.

In an interview with “The Chiefs” aired on OneNews/TV5 last Tuesday night, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said there are “parameters” that should be used in such decisions, which include the number of COVID-19 cases and the area’s health care capacity.

“Aside from that, LGUs should be able to show that they are capacitated to do the gatekeeping,” she added.

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Vergeire emphasized that LGUs should be able to do the appropriate surveillance, contact tracing, isolation or quarantine and screening at the borders to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.

The DOH official made the statement after acting National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) director general Karl Chua recommended last Monday that the entire Philippines, including the National Capital Region (NCR), be placed under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) next month.

Chua underscored that this shift in quarantine status is necessary for the reopening of the economy. The proposal, however, was opposed by some LGUs that cautioned about the possible spread of the coronavirus.

The DOH “recognized the value of inputs of the mayors… because they are ones who are experiencing (the threats of COVID-19) on the ground, they are the ones implementing protocols on the ground and they can see the situation,” according to Vergeire.

She reiterated that LGUs actually have the authority to do localized lockdowns, and “this is the direction that we will do – granular response – so that we can better manage the situation.”

Asked if the country could ease its quarantine status, the undersecretary said the number of cases in the NCR “has been plateauing.”

“Cases are stable, but we can see some cities that have increasing numbers of cases,” she added.

DOH data showed that NCR cases are decreasing, except in the cities of Valenzuela, Pasay, Malabon, Pasig, Makati, Navotas, Las Piñas and Manila.

This is in contrast to news reports that the NCR is among the regions being closely monitored for increases in COVID-19 cases.

“To reiterate, the NCR did not register a positive growth rate. In fact, the region registered a -3 percent growth rate,” the DOH said in a statement, citing a report of Epidemiology Bureau director Alethea de Guzman during a forum last Tuesday.

This means that “there is even an observed decrease in the overall case trend in the region,” it added.


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