Belmonte creates Task Force to implement long-term response to COVID-19

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte has issued an order creating a Task Force that will administer and implement the city’s coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) response on a long-term basis.

Belmonte signed an executive order creating the Task Force COVID-19, which will be co-chaired by Dr. Esperanza Arias, head of the Quezon City Health Department (QCHD).

With the battle against COVID-19 expected to extend well beyond this year, Belmonte said the institutionalization of a Task Force is needed to coordinate all the city government’s efforts against the deadly virus.

“Health authorities advise that the battle against COVID-19 will likely take a number of years, considering the tenacity of the disease and the time it will take to discover and distribute a vaccine,” Belmonte said in her order.

“Hence, the City should institutionalize a Task Force that will administer and implement, on a long-term basis, all the aspects of its COVID-19 response as we enter the new normal phase,” she added.

Members of the Task Force include the City Administrator and heads of the Investment Affairs Office, Quezon City General Hospital, Rosario Maclang Bautista General Hospital, Novaliches District Hospital, Department of Public Order and Safety, Barangay and Community Relations Department, Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office and the Quezon City Police District.

According to Dr. Arias, the functions of the Task Force, among other things, is to engage in widespread testing and contact tracing and quarantine of suspect, probable or confirmed COVID-19 cases, on an individual, neighborhood or community level.

“It is also tasked to oversee the treatment and case management efforts and lead the way in preventing the further spread of the virus through disinfection and promotion of public hygiene and precautionary measures,” Dr. Arias said.

Through the QCHD’s Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (ESU), a group of 300 or more contact tracers will soon be trained where each barangay is enjoined to contribute at least two persons to the group.

The Task Force is also mandated to receive and analyze reports of suspected, probable or confirmed COVID-19 cases from the private sector, public and private hospitals and health clinics, barangays, and all offices and departments of the city government.

From these reports, contact tracers will then track down and assess the close contacts of each case and determine if they need to undergo further screening and assessment.

The Task Force would also determine if a person needs to undergo testing, whether though rapid testing or swab test, under existing protocols.

To effectively perform its job, the Task Force is authorized to procure state of the art equipment and facilities for testing, including diagnostics laboratories and other relevant testing resources.