Aside from mass transport, smoking areas and office cafeterias can be considered as "critical areas" in the fight against COVID-19, the chief implementer of the country's pandemic-fighting strategy said Thursday.
An inspection of work areas in areas under Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine -- Metro Manila, Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite and Rizal -- showed that minimum health standards were not being followed strictly, said Sec. Carlito Galvez. Authorities have the duration of the 15-day MECQ, until Aug. 18, to address fast-rising infections that threaten to overwhelm the system.
From Aug. 15, face shields will be required in all forms of public transport where it is allowed. Authoities also announced plans to raise the hospital bed allocation for COVID-19 patients and go house-to-house in search of patients' close contacts.
"We saw that the most critical areas right now are the workplace, 'yung tinatawag natin na economic hubs (what we call economic hubs)," Galvez said during the launch of a COVID-19 command center for hospitals. Mass transport and common areas where people converge are "very vulnerable," he said.
As of late Wednesday, the Philippines tallied 115,980 COVID-19 cases, second only to Indonesia in Southeast Asia. On Thursday, Manila said the economy sank into a recession in the April to June quarter, reflecting the toll of strict quarantines.