CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Despite the national government’s move to ease the strict quarantine measures in some parts of the country, especially in Mindanao, some barangay chairpersons here have called on the local government to place the entire city under an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) as a response to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
Out of the city’s 80 villages, at least 26 barangay leaders and their constituents signed the petition, dated April 27, requesting Mayor Oscar Moreno to declare an ECQ. It was endorsed and received by the latter’s office on Tuesday, April 28.
The petitioners have asked Moreno to declare ECQ “without delay” for the effective prevention of the highly infectious disease. They based their call on the stand of the Misamis Oriental Medical Society that the ECQ is an effective means to reduce or eliminate the spread of coronavirus.
The said barangay officials also wanted the city government to distribute food packs to about 140,000 families during the ECQ, the funds of which will be sourced from the city’s P300 million calamity fund and the P500 million supplemental budget.
They also requested that mass testing should be conducted for persons categorized as suspect or probable, or even those without symptoms but were exposed to COVID-19 patients.
In a radio interview Thursday, April 30, Julito Ogsimer, chair of Barangay Lapasan and one of the petitioners, said they have decided to write Moreno since the mayor has not acted on the petition of medical doctors from different disciplines calling for the ECQ recently.
He said they really want the city government to strictly implement the home quarantine and other measures.
Moreno, for his part, has been asking residents to stay at home and to observe social distancing, frequent washing of hands, and other appropriate practices since he declared the general community quarantine last month.
With the declaration of the ECQ, Ogsimer said they believe the local government will be very effective in curbing the rise of confirmed COVID-19 cases.
At the daily press briefing held Thursday, April 30, Moreno shared that his decision not to put the entire city on ECQ was based on the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) and the Department of Health (DOH).
“It’s as if the decision was mine alone,” Moreno said, adding that to upgrade from GCQ to ECQ would need approval from the IATF. “You cannot elevate to ECQ without consulting the IATF,” he said.
The IATF and DOH advise local government executives on what level of community quarantine to implement in their respective jurisdictions based on the agencies’ findings.
Moreno said Metro Manila was placed under ECQ because the situation there has spiraled out of control as health and local government authorities have been swamped and could no longer conduct contact-tracing because of the exponential increase in COVID-19 cases.
He said the DOH-10 and the Northern Mindanao Medical Center have so far been successful in the handling of Covid-19 cases from within and outside the region.
“Doing the lockdown now would set back the gains,” he added.
Moreno said even Pres. Rodrigo Duterte knows that ECQ has a paralyzing effect on the economy and has advised local chief executives not to declare the ECQ unless it’s necessary. (davaotoday.com)