Senators Panfilo "Ping" Lacson and Edgardo "Sonny" Angara said authorities should seriously look into the medical community's appeal to put Metro Manila and surrounding areas back to stricter lockdown following the surge in COVID-19 cases.
"The request of health workers to place Mega Manila under ECQ for at least two weeks is a valid request that Malacañang should seriously consider. Putting human lives above all considerations is a no-brainer, given the choice," Lacson said in a statement.
The country reported a third day of record-high coronavirus infections at 4,963 new cases on Saturday, raising the nationwide caseload to 98,232.
This is expected to further strain medical efforts bearing the brunt of the country's response against COVID-19.
"It’s a very serious request, which the government should take very seriously in plotting out the next steps," said Angara. "If the doctors and our medical system is overwhelmed, then the whole system and government strategy will surely be affected."
"Any return to ECQ must be used for an improved response. As they say one step back, two steps forward."
Senator Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa said he would bat for a lockdown if that's what it takes to curb the virus spread.
"Pwede siguro kung kinakailangan, kasi nakita natin halos puno na ang mga ospital. Nagrereklamo na. Nu’ng ECQ, lumuwag konti at hindi gaanong mabilis ang pag-akyat ng numbers. Baka ’yan (ECQ) ang solusyon sa ngayon," Dela Rosa said, adding that he'd make that choice even if it means coming at an economic price.
" ’Yun talaga. Wala talaga tayong ibang paraan d’yan kundi maisakripisyo ang ekonomiya.
Sen. Richard Gordon said he wants Health Sec. Francisco Duque III to report this week "the real state of the health of the nation."
"GCQ dapat pag-aralan natin kasi health workers pagod na. Talamak ang pasaway," he said.
Gordon added that he understood that a relaxed quarantine would put the people back to work, but that process needed to be gradual.
"Gusto natin makapagtrabaho. Dapat hinay hinay. 'Yung mga sumusunod open natin. Ang pasaway ilockdown. Health workers 14 days papasok 14 days di papasok," he said.
"Mga doktor natin pagod. Dapat pag-aralan natin suggestion nila. Pati isolation (rooms) punung puno."
Meanwhile, Angara said that the Inter Agency Task Force (IATF) should be able to address the issues besetting the health sector to improve its capacity to curb the disease.
"It is useful for the IATF, (the Department of Health), and (the Department of the Interior and Local Government) to sit down with the representatives of the health sector to tackle and address their many concerns— the lack of PPEs, the filling up of hospitals, the state of our testing tracing and quarantine systems and how to improve them- these are some of the urgent issues raised," Angara said.
Lacson added that the government should also make sure that it can provide affected residents the necessities to make it through another ECQ.
"What is important is to prevent an obvious pattern of upsurge in the daily coronavirus infection," he said.
Health workers urged the government to give them at least 2 weeks of “breathing space” by shifting Mega Manila back to a strict lockdown.
“We’re waging a losing battle against COVID-19 and we need to draw up a consolidated, definitive plan of action,” the letter addressed to President Rodrigo Duterte, COVID-19 chief implementor Carlito Galvez Jr. and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.
During a briefing attended by over 40 medical societies, they said that the health care system has been overwhelmed, with hospitals temporarily closing to decongest and health workers falling ill.
“We propose that 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 contact tracing and quarantine; transportation safety; workplace safety; public compliance with self-protection; social amelioration,” Santiago read.