Sunday, April 25, 2021

Beng fears stricter quarantine measures

WITH THE increasing number of Covid-19 cases in Zamboanga, Mayor Beng Climaco said the national government may place the city under a strict quarantine measure unless residents follow health protocols religiously.


(Zamboanga Post)

Climaco said if the Covid-19 situation becomes uncontrollable due to the continued violations of the health protocols and complacency of residents, the national government’s Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) could impose severe measures just as it did last year at the start of the pandemic. 

“This is the reason why the City Government is intensifying enforcement of preventive measures such as wearing of face masks and face shields by residents, practicing hand hygiene and physical distancing, to include restricting mobility of people and even temporary closure of beaches and resorts to curb transmission of Covid-19,” she said. 

“Otherwise, if the (Covid-19) cases become unmanageable then the national government might declare ECQ and we do not want to be under ECQ because of its effects on the livelihood of people,” she added, referring to the strictest Enhanced Community Quarantine status. 

Police continue to apprehend daily hundreds of health protocols violators despite the rising cases of Covid-19.

Zamboanga City had a little over three dozen active Covid-19 cases in March. Even Health Assistant Secretary Romeo Ong congratulated the local government for keeping the number of active Covid-19 cases below 100. “I congratulate the City (Government of Zamboanga) for keeping the active cases to below 100, we should not keep our guards down, especially on our borders,” he said.

Ong also urged residents to follow the strict health protocols, especially now that Covid cases spiked in other parts of the country. “This pandemic proves again this is not only a national, but a global challenge. The virus recognizes no national boundaries, no difference in political system, in culture, in religion whatsoever. It attacks all of us the same way. So there is an even greater need for closer and more effective cooperation, it has to be a whole of government and whole of society approach,” he said. 

“My message is to always keep the minimum health standards, keep masks and face shields on, social distance and washing of hands. No matter whether it is the variant or not, it is the same virus and the transmission is the same. For our health care workers, get vaccinated. We are about to go to the next batch of vaccines,” Ong added. 

But the local health situation quickly changed and Zamboanga now has more than 700 cases and the spike in the number of infections occurred after the IATF-MEID relaxed its travel protocols across the country and allowed people to go from one place to another without medical certificates and RT-PCR tests. 

Hospitals put up additional wards to address the spike in the number of patients with the deadly respiratory disease. The Zamboanga City Medical Center has already converted other wards to accommodate Covid-19 patients with nurses working at least 12 hours per shift and no day’s off. Other hospitals also added Covid wards. 

Climaco stressed that in confronting the pandemic, the government has to balance medical science, facts and opportunity for people to be healed. 

Based on the recommendation of the City Health Officer Dr. Dulce Amor Miravite and City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer Elmeir Apolinario, the local government has asked the IATF-MEID to revert Zamboanga to General Community Quarantine status from the current Modified General Community Quarantine to restrict the movement of people and control the spread of the disease. 

“The request for GCQ is based on the recommendation of Doctor Miravite and CDRRMO. Hace kita claro, we do not want any form of ECQ because if it will be implemented, the people will really suffer. That is why I am asking everyone, this possibility is a likelihood just like in Metro Manila and I don’t think it is something we welcome in the city,” Climaco said. 

She reiterated that people have to fully cooperate and support the government in the fight against Covid-19 to prevent further increase in the number of infections here. 

The IATF-MEID will have to decide on its own whether to place Zamboanga and other areas where there are high number of Covid-19 cases based on its assessment on the Covid-19 situation. 

Climaco said the local government is making available the needed resources to assist people who are affected by temporary granular lockdowns in the barangays should Covid-19 cases spread rapidly. 

She also issued Executive Order 651-2021 that mandates all inbound passengers, whether APOR (Authorized Persons Outside Residence) or private individuals, regardless of reason or purpose of entry, including transit travellers to present negative RT-PCR test result within 5 days from date of specimen collection, whether swab test or Saliva RT-PCR test, together with their valid identification cards to entry into Zamboanga City.

“These are temporary measures designed to curb the sudden spike in Covid-19 cases in order to promote the health and safety of the general welfare of the citizens,” the mayor said, adding, the executive order took effect April 22 and shall remain in force until lifted, amended or superseded. (Zamboanga Post)

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