Photo: Unsplash/H Shaw
Malacañang has responded to the call of medical groups to place Metro Manila under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) again with the surge in COVID-19 cases and the overwhelmed health system.
On Saturday, at least 40 medical societies published a letter addressed to the government, illustrating the situation of medical frontliners.
“We propose the ECQ be used as a timeout to refine our pandemic control strategies addressing the following urgent conditions or problems: hospital workforce efficiency, failure of case finding and isolation, failure of contact tracing and quarantine, transportation safety, workplace safety, public compliance with self-protection, [and] social amelioration,” the letter read.
In a media briefing, Philippine College of Physicians Vice President Encarnita Limpin shared, “[Ang] gusto natin iparating sa lahat ay ang healthcare natin ngayon, lalung-lalo na kaming mga frontliners, ay talagang napapagod na,” said Limpin. “We are being overwhelmed… We are just asking for a time out.”
(What we want to convey to everyone is that our healthcare [system] now, especially we frontliners, are really exhausted.)
Limpin further noted that all they are asking for is at least two weeks of ECQ just so that they may be able to recover and strategize how they can control the spread of the disease. Health workers are not just physically but mentally drained as well, and a number of them are either succumbing to the virus or dying.
Data from the Department of Health (DOH) reveal that 4,823 healthcare workers tested positive for COVID-19. Among these, 4,490 recovered, 293 are active cases, and 38 have expired.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque expressed the Palace’s refusal to revert Metro Manila back to ECQ, as strict lockdowns have already “served its purpose”, and because the government needs to heighten its other strategies. Roque also emphasized that community quarantines alone are not enough to manage COVID-19 infections.
The government is working on increasing hospital capacity and workforce, as well as engaging communities through risk communication, social mobilization and advocacy to observe the minimum public health standards of wearing a mask, washing of hands, and keeping a physical distance.”
Photo: Unsplash/H Shaw