‘Pagod na kami’: Medical frontliners call for ECQ in Mega Manila

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As the health sector continues to fight the hard battle against COVID-19, medical professionals on Saturday morning called for Mega Manila, which includes the National Capital Region, Region III (Central Luzon) and Region IV-A (Calabarzon), to revert back to a much stricter enhanced community quarantine in order to reconfigure existing strategies in dealing with the pandemic.

On Friday morning, President Rodrigo Duterte announced that despite fast rising of cases in Metro Manila, the capital region will remain under general community quarantine, along with other areas including Region III’s Bulacan and Region IV-A’s Cavite, Laguna and Rizal

The Philippine College of Physicians held a press conference Saturday morning announcing the call from 40 medical societies urging the government to rethink the GCQ announcement.

In an open letter addressed to the president, COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. and Health Secretary Francisco Duque, the medical community stated that the country’s healthcare system is already at its maximum capacity and calling for a timeout through stricter quarantine measures.

“The medical community appeals for a return to enhanced community quarantine in Mega Manila from August 1 to 15 to recalibrate strategies against COVID-19. Dear President Duterte, healthcare workers are united in sounding off a distress signal to the nation that our healthcare system has been overwhelmed,” Philippine Medical Association President Jose Santiago read the letter.

“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.”

They also appealed to the administration to reconsider the reopening of businesses like gyms, internet cafes, testing and tutorial centers and drive-in cinemas as announced by Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.

“The health sector cannot hold the line for much longer. Our healthcare workers should not bear the burden of deciding who lives and who dies. If the health system collapses, it is ultimately our poor who are the most compromised.”

“In the end, winning the war against COVID 19 relies heavily on being able to keep our health system capacitated to address the needs of all Filipinos. We hope that our government heeds this plea.”