No area in PH will transition to ‘new normal’–Malacanang

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No area in the Philippines will transition to “new normal” after the government has decided that the country will still remain under community quarantine to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. made the announcement on Tuesday, a day after the meeting of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID), the country’s highest policy-making body on COVID-19 matters.

“Sa ngayon po wala munang new normal. Ibig sabihin lahat ng lugar po sa Pilipinas meron pa rin pong community quarantine,” Roque said.

Roque said the IATF’s decision was only temporary.

“That’s not permanent kasi habang nagmi-meeting ang IATF, nababago po ang kanilang guidelines,” he said.

The IATF earlier said areas where no community quarantine is in place could be considered as being under new normal, where minimum public health standards such as physical distancing and wearing of face masks as well as the ban on large gatherings will continue to remain in force.

The quarantine classifications in the country include the enhanced community quarantine, modified ECQ, general community quarantine and modified GCQ. The ECQ is the strictest form of movement restrictions while the modified GCQ is the least restrictive.

At present, only Cebu City is under ECQ while its neighboring city of Talisay is under modified ECQ. The rest of the country is either under GCQ or modified GCQ.

The IATF will consider the following indicators in deciding whether an area should be under modified ECQ or modified GCQ: social, economic, and security factors, clustering of cases, health system capacity, continuous increasing or decreasing new cases, case doubling time and critical care utilization rate.

The task force also came up with an updated methodology for resolving appeals of local government units regarding their quarantine classifications. The IATF said the following information must be submitted during the appeals process: daily trend of active cases, number and percent of population, percent of close contacts traced and percent of contacts in quarantine, number and utilization of community isolation beds,  met health system capacity targets and utilization, COVID special teams investigations and results, and priority areas for segmental lockdown./Stacy Ang

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