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Here we go again: New lockdown system, same COVID surge


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A police officer is stationed in a locked down space in Metro Manila. FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—After over per week of delay, the Philippine authorities lastly determined to implement a shift in group quarantine standing for Metro Manila to a brand new system, which was supposedly easier, beginning on Sept. 16.

Metro Manila has been positioned on Alert Level 4 till Sept. 30 as a part of the pilot run of the brand new system of lockdown, which officers referred to as granular as a result of it could not cowl total cities or total areas.

READ: NCR under Alert Level 4 Sept. 16-30 for granular lockdown tests

This was after the federal government deferred the supposed implementation of the brand new system on Sept. 7.

Under the brand new lockdown system, which is able to final for a interval not shorter than 14 days, there would solely be two quarantine classifications—enhanced group quarantine and basic group quarantine—in Metro Manila.

A four-level alert system, to be assigned by native authorities items (LGUs) of their areas, determines if institutions in closed areas, crowded areas, and people who contain shut contact can be allowed to function and at what capability.

READ: What to expect during NCR pilot of granular lockdowns, new alert level system

While the federal government appears to be extra ready for the pilot implementation of the brand new scheme the second time round, listed below are some essential COVID-related information and points to be thought-about or addressed as Metro Manila shifts to a brand new type of lockdown.

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Graphic by Ed Lustan

No warning?

In a radio interview on Sunday (Sept. 12), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) spokesperson Jonathan Malaya mentioned the pilot run for a localized lockdown system won’t include warnings.

“The smaller the granular lockdown imposed, the better for our countrymen. If possible, only one, two, or four houses [will be] covered. If there’s community transmission, only a street,” he mentioned.

“But it will not come with a warning. You’ll find out only once imposed. The only one to know will be the city health office, which has the data,” mentioned Malaya, including that warnings may “defeat the purpose” of the federal government plan.

But Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año on Tuesday (Sept. 14) mentioned there have been revisions within the new lockdown system.

Año mentioned the native authorities or native officers have the authority to declare a localized lockdown. “So actually it’s up to them whether they will give a warning or not,” he mentioned in Filipino in an interview with GMA’s Unang Hirit radio program.

Año mentioned the vast majority of areas within the metro are below Alert Level 4 though some qualify to be below Alert Level 5, the best. Two areas are below Alert Level 3.

According to IATF tips, individuals who might enter and exit areas on localized lockdown have been well being employees, uniformed personnel implementing the restrictions, returning or outbound abroad Filipino employees, and people with emergencies.

Arresting ‘pasaways’

Prior to the federal government’s announcement on the brand new lockdown scheme in Metro Manila, Local Government Undersecretary for Barangay Affairs Martin Diño reiterated that there was a must penalize quarantine violators.

“We will file a case against those who will violate [the lockdowns],” Diño mentioned in a radio interview over dzBB final Sept. 9.

According to him, there’s already a legislation that can be utilized to cost violators.

The legislation he was pertaining to was Republic Act No. 11332, or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.

Under RA11332, the next are thought-about prohibited acts:

  • Non-operation of the illness surveillance and response methods
  • Non-cooperation of individuals and entities that ought to report and/or reply to notifiable ailments or well being occasions of public concern
  • Non-cooperation of individual or entities recognized as having the notifiable illness or affected by the well being occasion of public concern

Those who will probably be discovered responsible face a penalty of no more than six months imprisonment or a high quality of no more than P50,000.

READ: What you need to know when arrested for quarantine violation

However, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra clarified in 2020 that arrests might be made solely when there’s a “serious resistance or disobedience” to authorities.

Diño additionally urged the general public to report violators.

“It is your obligation to report to the barangay so they can get the names and file cases [against the offenders],” he mentioned talking in Filipino.

“We are protecting lives here. [Violating quarantine rules] is worse than stealing something from someone because you are robbing peoples’ lives,” he added.

Human rights advocates, however, have been protesting in opposition to extreme penalties and punishment for quarantine violators.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) described extreme punishment as an “overreach” on quarantine guidelines following stories of strenuous train routine imposed on quarantine violators as punishment for violating curfew—which led to the demise of 28-year-old Darren Peñaredondo in April.

“Excessive punishments and fines which are punitive in nature and disproportionate with the violation represent an overreach of the enforcement of quarantine rules and regulations,” the CHR mentioned in a press release.

Also in April, one other alleged quarantine violator died as a consequence of extreme violence utilized by some authorities personnel in implementing curfew insurance policies.

CHR mentioned the strict measures are “tantamount to torture” and “the reason for the deprivation of the utmost right to life.”

READ: Lockdown enforcement turns into ‘torture’ – CHR

However, Diño insisted that punishment and penalties needs to be imposed—particularly in the course of the pilot run for the brand new lockdown scheme.

“The government is already too kind,” he mentioned.

“Human rights [groups question these measures]. But when we don’t impose strict rules…there are already two million individuals who contracted [COVID-19] in the country,” he added.

Surges and lockdowns

The nation remains to be on COVID lockdown, for over 500 days now, as President Rodrigo Duterte’s coronavirus activity drive always revises COVID guidelines.

Quarantine phrases have been evolving—from “community quarantine” to “granular”—and re-implemented numerous instances however COVID instances continued to rise, with 2,266,066 complete instances as of Sept. 14.

READ: Bubble, circuit breaker anyone? The birth of a new COVID lexicon in PH

Of these, 177,670 have been marked as lively instances whereas 2,052,867 contaminated individuals have already recovered and 35,529 died.

Despite strict quarantine measures, the nation nonetheless sees record-high day by day instances.

On Sept. 11, whereas Metro Manila was on modified ECQ and a few areas below much less restrictive lockdown methods, the Department of Health (DOH) reported an all-time excessive day by day COVID case of 26,303.

READ: PH records highest COVID-19 case count at 26,303 — DOH

On Sept. 9, the day by day COVID-19 tally reported by the DOH stood at 22,820 instances—one other document.

The third highest day by day depend logged for the reason that coronavirus pandemic began in 2020 was on Aug. 30, with 22,366 new COVID-19 instances.

Around this time, Metro Manila was on ECQ, essentially the most stringent type of group quarantine.

Between March and April, when Metro Manila and 4 adjoining provinces—Rizal, Bulacan, Cavite, and Laguna—have been on ECQ for the second time since 2020, the nation set a brand new document for highest single-day improve in COVID instances.

On April 2, the nation registered 15,310 new instances of COVID-19.

Aside from the constant improve within the variety of contaminated individuals within the nation, well being care employees continued to really feel overwhelmed regardless of strict quarantine measures carried out by the federal government to forestall transmission of SARS Cov2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and its variants.

Hospitals are once more reaching full capability as extra COVID-19 sufferers get admitted amid the heightened menace of COVID-19 as a consequence of its varied variants, particularly the extremely transmissible Delta.

As of Sept. 13, the nation’s mattress occupancy charge is 71.6 %, which the DOH categorised as excessive danger, with a complete of 29,359 out of 41,025 beds occupied by COVID sufferers.

In addition,  76.95 %—or 3,231 of 4,199 complete— Intensive Care Units (ICU) beds solely for COVID-19 sufferers in over 1,000 hospitals nationwide are already in use, in response to the same DOH information.

The well being division additional mentioned that 68.34 %—or 14,376 of 21,035 isolation beds—and 73.92 %—or 11,860 of 16,044 ward beds—are likewise occupied.

Vaccination and different measures

For Dr. Rafael Castillo, dean emeritus and lead school member for analysis of the Fame Leaders’ Academy, the federal government is “sabotaging its own efforts to curb the current outbreak [of COVID-19 cases]” by imposing lockdowns amid the continuing vaccine drive.

“[W]e’re conducting mass vaccinations in a not too well-organized manner, with hundreds and thousands congregating, making these vaccination centers superspreader venues,” mentioned Castillo, who additionally writes a column for the Inquirer.

“The lockdown is not working because we’re neutralizing its impact with the mass vaccinations, which we’re even escalating even in areas with unbridled outbreaks,” he mentioned.

READ: Gov’t ‘sabotaging own efforts’ with vax drive during lockdown – doctor

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), lockdowns can decelerate COVID-19 transmissions because it restrict contact amongst individuals.

“However, these measures can have a profound negative impact on individuals, communities, and societies by bringing social and economic life to a near stop,” mentioned WHO.

“Such measures disproportionately affect disadvantaged groups, including people in poverty, migrants, internally displaced people and refugees, who most often live in overcrowded and under resourced settings, and depend on daily labour for subsistence,” it added.

In order to realize herd immunity, WHO mentioned a considerable proportion of a inhabitants ought to obtain vaccines.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. on Sept. 9 mentioned the federal government has administered a complete of 37,176,513 doses of COVID vaccines.

Over 15 million Filipinos are additionally now totally vaccinated in opposition to COVID, he mentioned.

Still, the WHO acknowledged that lockdowns are imposed in some nations to purchase time.

“Governments must make the most of the extra time granted by ‘lockdown’ measures by doing all they can to build their capacities to detect, isolate, test and care for all cases; trace and quarantine all contacts; engage, empower and enable populations to drive the societal response and more,” the WHO mentioned.

This was echoed by Vice President Leni Robredo, who pushed for extra COVID testing with the intention to successfully isolate areas the place fast group transmissions are happening.

“One of my recommendations was to increase testing at 120,000 a day. I was telling you earlier that our positivity rate was at 21 percent, at 8,900 cases,” mentioned Robredo in an interview with CNN Philippines.

“But when you look at how many tests were conducted, we are still at the level before this surge, which is in the range of 50,000 tests,” Robredo mentioned.

“This only means that we should really test more,” the Vice President mentioned.

The worldwide customary for positivity charge, or the speed of virus transmission, needs to be lower than 5 %, Robredo mentioned.

“So if it’s 21 percent per day we are not testing enough,” she mentioned. “This is something that we have repeatedly recommended since last year—that we should test more,” Robredo mentioned.

READ: We still aren’t doing enough COVID tests amid high positivity rate—Robredo

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