A lawmaker urged the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to shift to a more targeted approach of household lockdowns to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Marikina City Representative Stella Quimbo said implementing variations of community quarantines covering a wide area, such as an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) or a modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) is “simply too broad”.
Quimbo said under her proposed targeted approach, only affected households will be required to adhere to a strict stay-at-home policy, and given the corresponding assurance that necessary cash aid is guaranteed and healthcare will be provided, whether at home or in the hospitals as needed.
“Our resources are limited, so let’s be strategic about using them.”
“Kailangan ng mas targeted na approach. Kailangan surgical ang attack at hindi shotgun approach. (We need a more targeted approach. The attack should be surgical, and not a shotgun approach.) Our resources are limited, so let’s be strategic about using them,” the legislator stressed.
The lady lawmaker said under the targeted lockdown, the government could effectively use its limited budget for the impacted households and it would not need to close down the economy.
“Under this proposal, the wheels of the economy can go on turning.”
“Under this proposal, the wheels of the economy can go on turning and this ensures that our workers can keep their jobs, their livelihoods are preserved while at the same time ensuring their safety and health,” she said.
Quimbo expressed some apprehensions on the effectiveness of a MECQ in controlling the further spread of COVID-19 while jump-starting the economy.
She noted that back in August 2020 with over 6,000 cases daily, the IATF implemented MECQ from August 4 to 18, which proved to be effective later in keeping new cases to an average of about 4,000 a day during the period, and subsequently, after three weeks, to averages of around 2,500 to 3,900 cases a day.
“The previous MECQ in August seemed to have been implemented at the right time, hence, the COVID curve somewhat stabilized at lower levels of new daily cases. Of course, we would have wanted it to stabilize at much lower levels,” Quimbo stressed.
She said that if the new MECQ would have the same effect as the one implemented last August, at best, the current levels of 10,000 to 15,000 new daily cases can drop by a maximum of 40 percent to 6,000 to 9,000 new cases per day, which are “still very high levels” and pose significant risks to Filipinos’ safety.
“Moreover, the IATF is lifting the ECQ at a time when the number of deaths is at a peak, with 401 deaths reported just last April 9. While I do not disagree with moving to a less stringent quarantine level for NCR plus, we must keep in mind that we must do this with a more responsive plan in place,” Quimbo said.
She said a swift and effective rollout of the vaccine program is also necessary.
“We need to ensure that the vaccine supplies are forthcoming as planned, without any delay and that these are swiftly and safely distributed to the public,” Quimbo stressed.
President Rodrigo Duterte has placed Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal, known as NCR Plus under the less restrictive modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) from April 12 to April 30.
Besides NCR Plus, also under MECQ are the City of Santiago in Isabela, Quirino province in Region 2, and Abra in the Cordillera Administrative Region.
Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya (Region 2), Batangas (Region 4-A), Tacloban City (Region 8), Iligan City (Region 10), Davao City (Region 11), and Lanao del Sur (BARMM), and Quezon will be under general community quarantine (GCQ).
The rest of the Philippines will be under the least restrictive modified GCQ.
According to amended omnibus guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) as of April 3, 2021, strict home quarantine shall be observed in all households under MECQ.
Movement of persons shall be limited to accessing essential goods and services, and for work in permitted offices or establishments or such activities allowed.
Persons below 18 years old, those who are over 65 years old, those with immunodeficiency, comorbidity, or other health risks, and pregnant women shall be required to remain at home at all times except for obtaining essential goods and services or for work.