2 House leaders back metro’s return to ECQ

TWO House leaders on Sunday backed the Philippine College of Physicians’ appeal for Mega Manila’s return to a 15-day enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to allow the recalibration of strategies against the coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic.

“If our leading doctors are prescribing it, then as good patients, we are all for Mega Manila’s brief return to an ECQ,” Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Mike Defensor, a vice chairman of the House committee on health, said.

“Our sense is, our public health system is on the verge of collapse, and the momentary return to an ECQ will buy everybody more time to gird for a longer battle against the coronavirus disease,” Defensor said.

While both the health and economic crisis wrought by the still ravaging COVID-19 pandemic must be both effectively addressed, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said “the relief and recovery of the people's health must be prioritized.”

“Lives lost are forfeited forever but businesses lost can be redeemed. The plea of the medical experts and healthcare frontliners for more stringent health protocols in critical areas must be heeded by the Duterte administration, while the call for business as usual must temporarily be put on hold or selectively implemented,” said Lagman.

“We must learn from the bitter lesson experienced by other countries like Japan which prematurely reopened economic, leisure and domestic
travel activities only to be besieged later by a resurgence of the viral contagion,” Lagman added.

President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte had already directed the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to look into medical frontliners’ plea for Metro Manila to again be placed under the strictest enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to prevent the health system from reaching its breaking point in the face of surging cases of COVID-19.

During the return to an ECQ, Defensor is counting on the COVID-19 National Task Force to find ways to quickly:

Fix the lack of hospital staff due to doctors, nurses and other personnel getting infected and still recovering, or undergoing routine seclusion after possible exposure;

Expand the bed capacities of makeshift hospitals and quarantine facilities;

·      Improve case-finding and the isolation of suspected cases;

·      Step up contact-tracing and quarantining;

·      Upgrade public transportation options and safety;

·      Strengthen workplace protection;

·      Build up enforcement of and public compliance with self-protective measures such as the wearing of face masks and face shields, handwashing as well as social and physical distancing; and

·      Increase financial and livelihood support to distressed households.