Palace highlights preventive intervention as economy gradually reopens

With Metro Manila and nearby provinces now under the general community quarantine (GCQ), and as more people go back to work, the Palace reiterated the importance of preventive interventions to combat the epidemic. In his August 20 press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque, Jr. underscored the need to promote discipline and individual responsibility to help reduce COVID-19’s transmission rate.

“Inuulit ko po, ingat buhay po tayo para sa hanapbuhay,” said Secretary Roque, who reminded the public to wear face mask properly, wash hands, observe distancing, and wear face shield while working and while in public transportation per guidelines from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Department of Transportation, respectively.

“Disiplina muna para sa ating kalusugan at disiplina para po sa pagsunod ng ating health protocols. Ipakita natin na tunay na bida ang may disiplina po,” said Sec. Roque.

On the management of asymptomatic and symptomatic employees in the workplace, the Palace official mentioned pertinent details of the Joint Memorandum Circular No 20-04-A issued by DTI and the Department of Labor and Employment.

The said joint circular states that large or medium-sized companies and establishments should have an isolation room per 200 employees, apart from the company clinic. The designated isolation area must have enough ventilation and should have available personal protective equipment (PPEs) for health personnel, including face shields and medical-grade face masks.

Further, a designated isolation room in companies and establishments should have chairs and its own toilet. It must also be disinfected every two hours or as soon as an infected or confirmed COVID-19 patient leaves the room.

Private establishments that will not be able to put up its own isolation area for its employees are advised to coordinate with the nearest temporary treatment and monitoring facility (TTMF) or with the barangay for referral of employees who need to be isolated. A company protocol should be in place when transporting symptomatic employees to the nearest health facility.

The circular also states that all employees who are in isolation must wear face mask and face shield at all times, while isolation area personnel must wear recommended PPEs before checking on and taking care of the symptomatic employee. The recommended PPEs include a disposable gown, face shield, medical grade mask, and gloves that should all be disposed of properly after use.

Malls and buildings or establishments are also required to have an isolation area near its entrance.

Meanwhile, Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary and Spokesperson Dr. Maria Rosario Vergeire discussed in the same press briefing the DOH’s nationwide behavioral change campaign against COVID-19 called BIDA Solusyon sa COVID-19, which is being done in partnership with the Department of Interior and Local Government. The campaign aims to address social determinants of health by enabling Filipinos, particularly in communities or barangays to have a behavior change.

Navotas City Mayor Toby Tiangco, on the other hand, thanked the national government for the assistance extended to his city in terms of testing and contact tracing, which resulted in some 25,004 residents, or 9.36 percent of the city’s residents, having been tested for COVID-19. Mayor Tiangco also credited the increase in testing capacity for the decrease in the city’s positivity rate from 22-23 percent in July to 14 percent from August 12-18, 2020.

Tiangco also shared that as part of the city’s local and expanded testing strategy, everyone working in companies or establishments located in Navotas are being tested for free even if they are not residents of the city. It was also stressed that Navotas implements the “no-home quarantine protocol” to better manage cases and prevent further community transmission; thus, residents of the city who can no longer be accommodated in community isolation facilities are being accommodated in national government designated TTMFs. As of date, Mayor Tiangco said that Navotas has sent some 863 patients in national government TTMFs, while some 588 patients have been admitted in the city’s isolation facility.

Metro Manila Development Authority General Manager Jose Arturo “Jojo” Garcia, Jr. likewise expressed his gratitude to the national government for giving attention to Metro Manila and assured that mayors of the National Capital Region are united and are in sync in terms of their actions and responses to the epidemic. (PCOO)

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