PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has directed the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to act on the concerns of health workers, who earlier appealed for a "timeout" by placing Metro Manila under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
The Philippine College of Physicians sent a letter to Duterte on Saturday, asking for a two-week ECQ in Metro Manila to give the government and the medical community time to "refine our pandemic control strategies."
In a statement posted on Facebook, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque assured that Duterte has heard the medical community's concerns.
"The Palace considers our skilled, tireless and dedicated healthcare workers as important frontliners in the battle against Covid-19. We are grateful for their immense contributions to heal our people and our nation during these difficult times," he said.
"Your voices have been heard. We cannot afford to let down our modern heroes. This is our commitment," he added.
Metro Manila and high-urbanized cities of the National Capital Region, Pateros, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City, Talisay City, Minglanilla, Consolacion and Zamboanga City have been placed under general community quarantine (GCQ) from August 1 to 15.
The rest of the country is now under modified general community quarantine.
Roque said earlier that the GCQ classification of Metro Manila had been a subject of debate among members of the IATF.
"The Palace understands the delicate balancing act between public health and the economic health of the nation given the Metro Manila and Calabarzon make up 67 percent of our economy," Roque said, adding that the strict local community quarantine has "already served its purpose."
"We need to intensify other strategies... It is for this reason that the local government units of Metro Manila have been directed to implement a strict localized lockdown or enhanced community quarantine in barangays where 80 percent of cases are located," he said.
He stressed Saturday that community quarantine alone "is an insufficient response in controlling Covid-19."
"We are scaling up hospital capacity by increasing allocation of Covid-dedicated beds while hiring more doctors, nurses, and medical personnel. We are also engaging the community through risk communication, social mobilization, and advocacy to observe the minimum public health standards of wearing a mask," Roque said. (LMY/With reports from Jove Moya/SunStar Philippines)