Quick response teams needed in areas with localized lockdowns – Año
MANILA, Philippines – Local government units that would implement localized lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic should organize quick response teams (QRT) that would assist in testing, tracing, and treating possible infected patients.
According to Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, the authority to impose lockdowns handed by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to the LGUs come with the responsibility to assign QRTs that can respond to various situations.
“By imposing localized lockdowns in specific areas within their jurisdiction, LGUs must have already organized their QRTs which shall swiftly and efficiently assist in the proper management of the COVID-19 situation in those areas,” Año said in a statement issued on Monday.
“Imposing a localized lockdown comes with it several responsibilities. LGUs must be ready to enforce stringent health protocols, aggressively conduct contact tracing, testing, and isolation to contain and prevent the spread COVID-19 in the lockdown areas, among others,” he added.
Año noted that the QRT should include various composite teams, one for each issue — namely, health promotion and prevention, disinfection, swabbing for COVID-19 tests, contact tracing, medical evaluation, law and order, health emergency response, and a social amelioration team.
All of these teams should be stationed at the municipal or city emergency operations center. However, any measures taken by local executives should have the concurrence of the Regional IATF.
“Each LGU must also have available data on population, number of barangays, population density per barangay, quarantine facilities, treatment facilities, mapping of cases, syndrome surveillance, and testing kits before actual implementation of the localized lockdown,” the DILG said.
As of now, most of the quarantine regulations all over the country have been eased up, despite the still-rising number of COVID-19 cases.
Last June 1, Metro Manila and other areas previously under a modified enhanced community quarantine transitioned to a general community quarantine, resuming operation of some workplaces and establishments.
However, the option to do modified lockdowns is still available, especially if an area has been found to have a high rate of local coronavirus transmissions. In Manila, during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) period, the whole district of Sampaloc was placed under a hard lockdown to limit the COVID-19 cases.
According to Año, the decision to resume work even with the increase in cases is based on balancing the economic and health security effects of the pandemic, which has claimed 1,011 lives out of the 22,474 cases as of Monday.
“The government has to keep the balance between containing and preventing the spread of COVID-19 and mitigating the social, economic and security impacts of the pandemic crisis. Our approach now is localized and surgical lockdowns since we have been able to flatten the curve already,” Año said.
“We want our [LGUs] to take the lead role and assume greater responsibility in the fight against COVID-19 since they can better assess the prevailing conditions in their respective areas and since they have been given sufficient financial resources by the national government,” he added.
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