Government told to consider MECQ, beef up mass testing to slow down COVID-19 surge


Posted at Mar 27 2021 09:49 AM | Updated as of Mar 27 2021 12:27 PM

A checkpoint screens passing vehicles coming from Santo Tomas, Batangas heading to Calamba, Laguna on Tuesday as curfew hours under the general community quarantine (GCQ) with additional restrictions in the "NCR Plus bubble" nears. Non-essential travel in and out of the bubble is restricted, with the area under curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. until April 4. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The government must consider placing COVID-19 hotspots under lockdown anew, a health expert said, as the number of daily new cases soared to a record-high of 9,838. 

Former COVID-19 task force adviser Tony Leachon proposed the implementation of a modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), the second highest of quarantine levels for two weeks, while running at least 50,000 tests per day, to halt the increase in coronavirus cases.

He also called for better contact tracing, improved protection for healthcare workers, and the creation of satellite clinics for patients who can't access health facilities. 

Most hospitals in the capital region already reported full capacity for COVID-19.

Leachon said the government should have a plan of action and urgently decide on ways on how to control the uptick in cases. 

"Leaders will [need to] step up to the plate. Hindi tayo puwedeng walang mangyari dito," he said in a video broadcast on his Facebook page

Leachon also lamented the government decision to allow church services this coming Holy Week, as this could further increase COVID-19 cases. 

"Sana hindi muna kahit Holy Week kasi pwede naman online. God is present anywhere...kahit 10 percent capacity, parishioners [will come] from different areas, iba-iba ang level of hygienic measures," he added. 

"Hindi tama po na magpalabas tayo," he added.

On Friday, Malacañang reversed an earlier announcement for Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal—which government called "NCR Plus" bubble area—and allowed limited religious gatherings from April 1 to 4. Under the new rule, churches can hold a program only once a day, while observing a 10 percent capacity to control crowds.
Leachon said the government must also speed up vaccination, especially in the National Capital Region, Region 4A, and Central Luzon, where COVID-19 cases are rising uncontrollably.

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