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Time Out: Doctors, Nurses Call for 2-Week ECQ in Metro Manila

Healthcare professionals ask the government for a unified approach in tackling the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases.
by Charlene J. Owen
Aug 1, 2020
Healthcare workers seen outside the Gat Andres Bonifacio Memorial Medical on July 29, 2020. Medical professionals have warned of dire outcomes should hospitals continue to be overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases.
Photo/s: Jerome Ascano

The Philippine College of Physicians, Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, and other medical associations on Saturday morning voiced out their concerns regarding the strain placed on the country’s healthcare system by the growing number of COVID-19 cases in the country, advising that the National Capital Region (NCR) be returned to enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) for two weeks.

The press conference was held over Zoom and shared live on Facebook. Representatives from different medical associations outlined their recommendations and stressed a unified front as they addressed an open letter to the Department of Health (DOH), the IATF-EID (Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases), and the Office of the President.

Nitong mga nakaraang linggo, nakakakita ulit kami ng namamatay nanaman. Kumakaunti kami dahil marami sa amin ang nai-infect,” said Philippine College of Physicians Vice President Dr. Maricar Limpin. “Ayaw po naming bumigay. We are just asking for a time out. Two weeks ang hinihingi ho namin… We need to regroup, we need to rethink.”

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[“In the past few weeks, we’ve again seen many deaths. Our numbers our dwindling since many of us are also getting infected. We don’t want to collapse. We’re just asking for a time out. We’re only asking for two weeks… We need to regroup, we need to rethink.”]

The country has seen a surge of corona virus cases in the past month and has now surpassed China’s initial numbers in the Western Pacific Region at 93,354 COVID-19 cases as of July 31. Medical experts have warned of an increase in casualties similar to New York City if hospitals continue to reach patient critical mass.

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Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, however, has said in a statement that “the strict lockdown in Metro Manila has served its purpose, and we need to intensify other strategies.” He also added that they “welcome comment of various stakeholders” and will be included “in future IATF meetings.”

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[Update: August 1, 2020, 7:24 p.m.] Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque has released another statement early in the evening of August 1 regarding the call of medical professionals:

"President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has heard the concerns of the medical community and the Chief Executive has directed the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to act on these concerns immediately.

"The Palace considers our skilled, tireless and dedicated healthcare workers as important frontliners in the battle against COVID-19.  We are grateful for their immense contributions to heal our people and our nation during these difficult times.  Your voices have been heard. We cannot afford to let down our modern heroes.  This is our commitment."

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