IATF eyeing Baguio example in restarting economy

BAGUIO. In this photo taken in February 2020, residents relax at the People’s Park. (SunStar Baguio File Photo)

FOLLOWING the example set by Baguio City, the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases is looking at allowing more businesses to reopen by June.

National Task Force Against Covid-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. said Friday, May 22, said he and Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez were scheduled to inspect malls in Metro Manila Saturday to determine which establishments may be allowed to resume operations.

“Titignan natin ‘yung mga business na puwede nating i-open this coming June 1 at tinitingnan din po namin yung mga protocols,” Galvez said during the Laging Handa online forum Friday.

Galvez noted that in Baguio City, all businesses except hotels and restaurants, are now open.

“Bumisita po ako sa Baguio, medyo advanced po sila, makikita natin na maganda ‘yung preparation nila. Makikita mo sa Baguio talagang naka-open ang lahat ng mga tindahan. Ang hindi nalang nila ino-open ay mga restaurants at saka mga hotels,” he said.

Galvez said the government intends to replicate this across the country.

“Ito ‘yung tinitignan natin na kapag once na control na natin ‘yung situation if we have already effective way on testing, tracing, at treatment nakikita po namin na puwede na tayong magbukas,” Galvez said.

During his visit, Galvez also lauded Baguio City’s contact tracing measures.

Read: Baguio Covid system hailed

He said the implementation of community quarantine and other measures have been effective in mitigating the spread of the novel coronavirus, or Sars-CoV-2, the pathogen that causes coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

Comparing the mortalities in the Philippines to those in New York and Lombardy region in Italy, Galvez noted that only 857 had died from Covid-19 in the Philippines.

New York and Lombardy each reported more than 15,000 deaths.

Galvez said the IATF is preparing for a possible second wave of infections that could be triggered by the arrival of thousands of displaced overseas Filipino workers.

He said they were looking at classifying an area either as economic or affected area.

Affected areas will be divided into four areas - index or critical areas which have the highest number of cases, containment areas or those surrounding the critical areas, buffer zone and non-buffer zone.

“Sa affected areas, we will cluster them into four-- sinasabi po naming na we will have a zoning concept; napakaganda po nito dahil ‘yung area i co-cordone natin, doon nalang natin i lo-lockdown sa area or mga compound na affected,” Galves said.

“Iyong mga areas na ito ay tinatawag nating ‘index area or critical area,” he added.

The containment areas are places near critical areas, but are not widely affected by the virus.

“Iyong nasa palibot niya (critical areas) na affected din pero kakaunti, ‘yun ay tinatawag na containment area,” Galves said.

Buffer zones refer to places that are not affected by the virus, but are near critical and containment areas.

The non-buffer zones, on the other hand, are areas where 50 percent to a hundred percent of businesses are allowed to operate again.

“Iyong buffer zone po ito po ‘yung mga areas na hindi po affected pero contiguous po sa mga affected areas,” Galvez explained.

“And we have iyong out of the buffer zone, ito po mga categorization ng mga economic areas na puwede po tayong magbukas ng 50 percent to 100 percent economic activities,” Galvez said.

The entire country is still under community quarantine but only the non-essential businesses in Cebu City and Mandaue City are not allowed to open yet as both remain under enhanced community quarantine until May 31.

Metro Manila, Bataan, Bulacan, Laguna, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Zambales, and Angeles City are under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).

Public transportation systems are still suspended but some non-essential businesses are allowed to resume operations at limited capacity.

The rest of the country, like Baguio City, is under general community quarantine (GCQ).

In GCQ areas, public transport systems are allowed to resume operations at limited capacity and more businesses are allowed to reopen. (SunStar Philippines)


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