MANILA - Local government units should step up COVID-19 response measures in case national government decides to further relax country-wide quarantine protocols, a health official said Saturday
In a public press briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said LGUs should already be capable of undertaking localized COVID-19 response with or without a shift to relaxed quarantine restrictions.
"No matter what risk classification or community quarantine level na ibibigay sa atin, the LGUs should have the capability to do localized response," Vergeire said.
The country’s economic managers have pushed for a Philippine-wide shift to MGCQ— the most relaxed out of the 4 quarantine restrictions set by the government. The national government is eyeing to begin the shift next month.
The country's pandemic task force and mayors of Metro Manila, the epicenter of the virus, agreed on relaxing quarantine restrictions after expressing hesitation on the effects it may have on COVID-19 transmission.
Experts and some mayors have previously warned against relaxing quarantine restrictions because of the possibility of another surge in COVID-19 cases, saying it would be better to wait for the arrival of vaccines first.
"Ang atin pong safeguard ay ang ating local governments ay magkakaroon ng sari-sariling response where they have better surveillance gatekeeping indicators. Ito po ay isang bagay na kailangan po natin ipatupad kung sakaling darating na ang point na 'yan and we are asking local governments to step up,” Vergeire said, adding that the public should follow minimum health standards.
(Our safeguard, is that local governments should have their own response, where they have better surveillance and gatekeeping indicators. This is one thing that we need to fulfill in case we have to come to that point, and we are asking local governments to step up.)
Government officials previously said it could no longer wait for the vaccine rollout and would need to shift to more relaxed quarantine protocols to revive the economy dragged down by the pandemic.
COVID-19 response leaders earlier said vaccines would arrive in the country this month, but this has seen delays.
The Philippines aims to inoculate 70 million people and hopes to buy 148 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from various drug makers.
— With reports from Raya Capulong, ABS-CBN News