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DOH RAISES RED ALERT FOR COVID-19

COVID-19: LGUs told to be ready for possible sustained community transmission

By: Morexette Marie B. Erram - Reporter/CDN Digital | March 07,2020 - 06:10 PM
INFO DRIVE A tarpaulin about the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) has been put up by local officials in Barangay Sta. Cruz in Manila amid the virus scare in the country.| Inquirer photo | Marianne Bermudez

INFO DRIVE A tarpaulin about the 2019 novel coronavirus has been put up by local officials in Barangay Sta. Cruz in Manila amid the virus scare in the country.| Inquirer photo | Marianne Bermudez

CEBU CITY, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) has urged local governments in the country to prepare for the possibility of sustained community transmission of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The DOH made this announcement in a press briefing in Metro Manila on March 7 as they confirmed the local transmission of COVID-19.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the sixth case of COVID-19 in the Philippines happened to be the wife of one of the patients who recently tested positive of the disease.

Both husband and wife do not have a travel history to areas affected by COVID-19.

As a result, the DOH hoisted the Code Red Sublevel 1 in anticipation of the possibility of sustained community transmission.

“This declaration is a signal to all concerned agencies, local government units and health care providers to be ready to implement planned response measures,” Duque said.

Duque also said they had made a recommendation before the Office of the President for the declaration of a State of Public Health Emergency that would “facilitate mobilization of resources, ease processes, including procurement of critical logistics and supplies, and intensifying reporting”.

Sustained community transmission

The DOH defines sustained community transmission as an instance wherein there would be an increased number of local COVID-19 with unestablished links.

“Once there is sustained community transmission, the strategy will be shifted from an intensive contact tracing to the implementation of community-level quarantine (or lockdown), and/or possibly, suspension of work or school,” said Duque.

“These will be implemented in municipal, city, or provincial scale as may be warranted. Augmentation of health staff from unaffected areas and uniformed personnel will also be facilitated,” he added.

Duque also said there were certain protocols and guidelines laid down for local government and other government agencies to follow in case the alert system would be upgraded to Sublevel 2.

He added that at this point, ‘it is still premature’ to declare Code Red Sublevel 2.

“Sublevel 2 pertains to community transitions with several unlinked cases (cases without established links). We are not yet on this stage,” Duque said.

Cebu Preps

Presently, several precautionary measures on the possible spread of COVID-19 in Cebu are already in place.

These include the mandatory 14-day quarantine for travelers, who recently came from China and its territories, and North Gyeongsang province, Cheongdo County and Daegu City in South Korea.

Several quarantine facilities were also identified and being used to house returning Filipinos from countries covered by the travel ban.

The Capitol has also reminded travelers arriving from domestic and international flights to fill up and submit health declaration forms truthfully, otherwise, they could be placed behind bars or imposed a penalty of P5,000.

Seaports are also being strictly monitored with foreign vessels from COVID-19 affected areas barred from docking in all piers of the island.

Hotels and other private establishments are told to step up their screening protocols such as purchasing thermal guns to be used for guests at entry points.

The labor department in Central Visayas, for their part, also advised firms to implement measures to ensure workers’ health without doing layoffs as means to curb the impact of COVID-19.

These includes the suggestion of imposing flexible work hours for employees.

Global data

Global data showed that COVID-19 had infected over 108,000 individuals worldwide — the bulk of which was still in mainland China.

South Korea remains as the country outside China with the highest number of COVID-19 patients — at 6,767.

The death toll now stands at 3,491./dbs

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