MANILA— The Department of Health (DOH) is hopeful that the entire country would be able to shift to more lenient quarantine protocols by the first quarter of 2021, should local government units be able to sufficiently comply with standards on prevention, contact tracing and treatment.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the government has set milestones and "safeguard conditions" which would serve a local government unit's metric to shift to modified general community quarantine - the most lenient of the 4 quarantine classifications in the government's pandemic response protocol.
"Sa target natin, tinitingnan natin na by first quarter of 2021 hopefully all LGUs will be able to shift to MGCQ," Vergeire said in a public press briefing Saturday.
(We target that hopefully all LGUs will be able to shift to MGCQ by the first quarter of 2021.)
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier in the week announced that Metro Manila, the epicenter of the virus, along with 6 other areas remain under general community quarantine- the second most loose quarantine classification- until the end of November.
Earlier, experts also warned that loosening up protocols even further may cause a spike in coronavirus cases in the country come Christmas time, when trips to malls and provinces are usually expected.
Some experts also raised the alarm over the country's coronavirus data, with a study saying the country is "split" on its accuracy.
Vergeire reiterated that LGUs should have self-sufficient contact tracing protocols and have enough resources to prevent, treat, and isolate possible COVID-19 cases.
"Kailangan ang surveillance system, ang contact tracing is self-sufficient, kailangan kayo ay makakapagpatupad ng basic na pangangailangan para makapag-prevent, treat, isolate ng pasyente... Kapag na-achieve na ng local government ang target na iyan and then we can very well say na they can shift to MGCQ," she said.
(A surveillance system is needed, and contact tracing should be self-sufficient. They should also be able to provide basic needs to prevent, treat, and isolate patients. When an LGU achieves this target, we can very well say that they can shift to MGCQ.)
While the increase in COVID-19 cases is slowing down in some areas, Vergeire noted that cases in others have risen. Vergeire said "barangay-level" actions are being reinforced.
The Philippines has logged a total of 378,933 confirmed COVID-19 infections, with 2,006 additional cases reported Friday.