Following President Rodrigo Duterte’s imposition of the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) status in Metro Manila, Laguna, Cavite, Rizal, and Bulacan, the Department of Health (DOH), in coordination with the National Task Force Against COVID-19, other line agencies, and concerned Local Government Units (LGUs) will lead a revitalized strategy with more focus on localized response and mitigation of disease transmission at the community level.
Recent data shows that there is a significant increase in COVID cases, with record-high numbers reported consecutively in the last four days, from the areas recently placed under MECQ. On Monday, August 3, DOH reported 3,226 new cases bringing the Philippines’ total to 106,330. On the other hand, 46 new deaths were reported, bringing the total to 2,104, while 275 more patients recovered bringing the total to 65,821. That leaves us to 38,405 active cases–making the Philippines the worst-performing country in Asia with regards to COVID-19 response.
The data also shows that the increase is primarily driven by clusters within barangays. By focusing resources at the barangay level and shifting to this community-focused strategy, the DOH and other agencies will address the rise in cases at the root through stricter enforcement of localized lockdowns and the implementation of the Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic (CODE) beginning August 3, 2020.
The CODE is a patient- and community-focused response strategy with key elements incorporated from the Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Test-Treat strategy. Key components of CODE include (1) community engagement activities to promote preventive behaviors, (2) active case finding via house-to-house symptom checks, (3) RT-PCR testing for symptomatic patients, and (4) Oplan Kalinga application for those needing quarantine and isolation.
Through this initiative, support from the national government is provided to LGUs, particularly those with high-risk community transmission and those with limited capabilities and resources. This strategy will also buy time for the healthcare system and healthcare workers to recuperate, and for the formulation of a substitution team that will augment our exhausted forces.