WITH the increasing R0 (pronounced naught) of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), the World Health Organization officially declared a global pandemic. The Philippines’ Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) then recommended to President Rodrigo Duterte to place much of the country under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), which he did almost four months ago and still counting. At present, Cebu City has reverted to this status, while the National Capital Region (Metro Manila) and some areas in Region 4A (Calabarzon) are now classified as general community quarantine (GCQ) areas, with the rest of the nation as modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).
R0 is the reproduction figure of the virus that has the scientific nomenclature of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. In response to this health emergency, the IATF-EID took the helm in defining the guidelines and classifying the quarantine statuses of the country’s regions and cities from the strictest, which is ECQ to GCQ. A modified classification, e.g. MGCQ, refers to less severe measures, but strict nonetheless.
As such, the Department of Health (DoH) advocates the practice of the minimum health and safety protocols to avoid the spread and contraction of this virus by wearing face masks such as the N95 (a type of high-efficient particulate air or HEPA respirator), physical distancing and frequent handwashing. Health Human Resource (HRH) must also wear proper personal protective equipment (PPE), particularly in dealing with infected patients. The DoH initially compelled doctors to the barrios (DTTBs) to transfer from their rural areas to private hospitals in Cebu City, as it has started to outpace Metro Manila as the viral hotspot, only for this decision to be rescinded.
The Health department has launched a campaign to increase the number of HRH, which included DTTBs, to deal with this crisis. Ideally, as part of their PPE, they should wear HEPA filter respirators such as one that is “[n]ot resistant to oil” and filters at least 95 percent of airborne particles.
Among the public, quarantine passes have been issued to authorized persons outside residence (APORs) and, at the national level, the government has been assisting locally stranded individuals (LSIs) and returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) to finally go back to their places of residence.
In terms of financial support for low-income households, the Department of Social Welfare and Development has been distributing Social Amelioration Program (SAP) aid; for employees who became suddenly out of work, there is either the Department of Labor and Employment’s Covid-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP) or the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (Tupad) Program; for those working overseas but are back here and are jobless is the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration’s Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong for OFWs (AKAP) Program; and the Department of Finance has its Small Business Wage Subsidy (SBWS) Program for those employed by adversely affected small businesses.
Some, if not most, local government units have actually been implementing stricter policies like handing out quarantine passes to one or only two APORs per household for them to go out on specified days of the week to buy essential items and carry out important transactions. As far as LSIs and ROFs are concerned, they are given free lodging and transportation until they get to their own hometowns. Cash assistance by the aforementioned departments from different funds, namely SAP, CAMP, Tupad, AKAP and SBWS, has gone a long way in helping those in need.
At the end of the day, reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing is being done on persons under investigation and under monitoring to determine then isolate those who contracted the virus. This real-time RT-PCR test provides the most accurate result among the aforementioned persons. If indeed positive, not only treatment and care but also hope and faith are vital so that they will not succumb to the acute respiratory disease.