A refreshed and more harmonized government national action plan (NAP) against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic is in place amid the less strict general community quarantine (GCQ) in National Capital Region (NCR) and four nearby provinces, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said Tuesday.
In a virtual briefing, Galvez, who is NAP on Covid-19 chief implementer, said national and local governments are ready to face new challenges as the GCQ is reimposed in Metro Manila and Bulacan, Laguna Cavite, and Rizal provinces
For the past weeks, Galvez said the National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and the Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic (CODE) teams of the four provinces have been holding coordination meeting, discussions on how to boost the strategies to the pandemic as well as improving the localized responses and approaches in the government’s action plan on Covid-19.
“Ibig sabihin ay katuwang po natin ang ating lokal na pamahalaan sa pagbabalanse ng ekonomiya at ang ating kaligtasan sa kalusugan (This means we are partnering with local governments to balance the economy and our health),” he said, noting that LGUs have vital functions in monitoring the precaution measures on the ground level.
He added that the LGUs are much aware of the actions and crisis responses suited to their communities and for their constituents.
Meanwhile, Galvez said the government will distribute more surgical masks to local communities nationwide, to promote the government’s new normal advocacies including the observance of the minimum health standards and other preventive measures to halt the spread Covid-19.
“As promised by President Rodrigo Duterte, we will give out 20 to 30 million face masks to the Filipino people,” he said.
He urged the public to always wear face masks, practice safe physical distancing, frequently wash hands, and avoid crowding in public places to ensure everyone’s safety against the risks of the dreaded disease.
Galvez noted that the national government, LGUs, private sectors, and the Filipino people have a responsibility to partake in the health crisis response.
He also encouraged those who are experiencing Covid-19 symptoms such as coughing and fever to immediately isolate themselves and report their conditions to the barangay health centers or to the city health offices.
“Wala po kayong dapat ikatakot, ang lahat po ay nakacoordinate sa ating mga local na pamahaalan upang mabilis na matugunan ang inyong pangangailangan at aalagaan po namin kayo (You don’t have to worry, everything is coordinated with the LGUs to quickly meet your needs and we will take care of you),” he said.
Contact tracing, testing capacity
Galvez said there are about 14,348 contact tracing teams which consist of 145,733 tracers nationwide.
Due to massive contact tracing of the government, Galvez said the Covid-19 testing capacity is also increasing.
“Sa pagtaas po ng bilang ng ating kaso, dahilan po ng mas pinalakas nating contact tracing at test, tuloy-tuloy po ang ating pagdaragdag ng healthcare facilities (As the number of our cases increases as a result of our intensified contact tracing and test, we also continue adding more healthcare facilities),” he said.
Galvez said the government is targeting to establish more bed capacities for the “We Heal As One Centers,” which are emergency patient care facilities, that could accommodate around 12,427 Covid-19 patients in Luzon, 3,565 patients in the Visayas and around 3,893 patients in Mindanao.
He said the need to boost Covid-19 care facilities could prevent the local transmission within communities by isolating suspected and probable cases.
Establishing more bed capacity is part of the government’s preparation to further combat the dreaded disease, he added.
“Sa pamamagitan po ng ating mas pinalakas na testing capacity, mas madali po nating matutugunan ang pangangailangan ng mga nagkakasakit (Through strengthened testing capacity, we can easily provide the needs of infected patients),” Galvez said, noting that around two million individuals have already been tested for Covid-19.
The national government also vowed to continue providing assistance to the LGUs, he said, when it comes to advancing the accreditation of local testing facilities.
Galvez added that the Department of Health (DOH) is recruiting more than 2,000 overseas healthcare workers, who have been repatriated during the pandemic, to work with the government as medical personnel.
He reiterated that the government is continuously purchasing treatment machines and Covid-19 medicines including Avigan, dexamethasone, remdesivir, and high flow nasal cannula for critical and severe coronavirus patients, to reduce the country’s fatality rate.
He echoed Durterte’s remarks that the vaccines should be accessible to all Filipino people, particularly those “poorest of the poor” and vulnerable sectors.
Galvez said the two-week modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in NCR and the other four high-risk provinces was effective in curbing the spread of Covid-19.
However, he said localizing the national action plan and lockdowns will be more effective and sustainable for the economy.
“So, ang nakikita po natin, if we will empower LGUs dahil sila naman po ang pinakaleader, kung sila po ang mamumuno, nakikita po natin na ‘yung mga areas na dapat i-lockdown, mas madali po ‘yung mga response at interventions (As what we see, if we will empower LGUs since they are the chief executives on grounds if they will lead, we see that those areas that should be locked down will get quick responses and interventions),” Galvez said. (PNA)