With the general community quarantine (GCQ) in effect in Metro Manila and modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) in greater parts of the country, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said that local government units (LGUs) which impose localized lockdown in specific areas in their communities must have organized their quick response teams (QRTs) that shall carry out the test-trace-treat strategy against Covid-19 in the lockdown areas.
“By imposing localized lockdowns in specific areas within their jurisdiction, LGUs must have already organized their QRTs which shall swiftly and efficiently assist in the proper management of the Covid-19 situation in those areas,” said DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año.
Año said that while the Interagency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) has given LGUs the authority to impose localized lockdowns, the imposition comes with the responsibility to implement the strategy to contain the disease in the lockdown areas as well as implement social amelioration to alleviate the conditions of those affected.
“Imposing a localized lockdown comes with it several responsibilities. LGUs must be ready to enforce stringent health protocols, aggressively conduct contact tracing, testing, and isolation to contain and prevent the spread COVID-19 in the lockdown areas, among others,” he added.
He said that the QRTs to be organized in implementing a localized lockdown include: Health Promotion and Prevention Team (for syndromic surveillance); Disinfection Teams; Swabbing Teams; Contact Tracing Teams; Medical Evacuation Teams; Law and Order Teams; Barangay Health Emergency Response Team (BHERTS) and Social Amelioration/ Support Teams. Said teams will be stationed at the Municipal/City Level Emergency Operations Center (EOC).
Each LGU must also have available data on population, number of barangays, population density per barangay, quarantine facilities, treatment facilities, mapping of cases, syndrome surveillance, and testing kits before actual implementation of the localized lockdown.
Section 2 of Executive Order 112 issued by the Office of the President authorizes provincial governors to impose, lift or extend community quarantine in component cities and municipalities, while mayors may exercise the same authority in barangays.
He said that provincial governors have the power to declare localized lockdowns in cities and municipalities in areas with 10 or more new clusters of cases; a surge of new sporadic cases within the last 14 days; and incidence of suspected and probable cases.
On the other hand, city/municipal mayors can implement localized lockdowns in buildings, business establishments, markets, streets, and blocks if there are an initial number of cases identified and clustering of cases; in subdivisions, puroks, barangays with two or more cases in seven days and incidence of suspected and probable cases; and in a cluster of barangays and districts if there are two or more new clusters of cases and incidence of suspected and probable cases.
“Such decisions should have the concurrence of the regional IATF. Meaning, the mayor must consult with the RIATF before imposing a localized lockdown,” he said.
The DILG Chief said the country can now ill afford to place entire regions under ECQ again because “the government has to keep the balance between containing and preventing the spread of Covid-19 and mitigating the social, economic and security impacts of the pandemic crisis. Our approach now are localized and surgical lockdowns since we have been able to flatten the curve already,” he said.
“We want our local government units (LGUs) to take the lead role and assume greater responsibility in the fight against Covid-19 since they can better assess the prevailing conditions in their respective areas and since they have been given sufficient financial resources by the national government,” Año said.