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    Palace warns possible spike of COVID-19 cases

    MANILA, Philippines – The Palace, on Monday, warned of a possible spike in the number of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases as many people wantonly disregarded social and physical distancing measures on the first day of implementation of the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) and general community quarantine (GCQ) on May 16.

    Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque Jr. reminded the public to stay vigilant and to continuously observe physical and social distancing as reports reached the Palace of people trooping to shopping malls and of traffic buildups as soon as areas were transitioned to MECQ and GCQ.

    “Noong araw ng Sabado, dinagsa po ang mga malls. Parang nawala, nawala na ang katunayan na nandyan pa ang COVID-19. Wala na pong physical distancing, meron pa ngang nagtutulakan. Pag ganyan po tayo ng ganyan, lahat ay mabibigyan hindi ng ayuda, kung hindi ng COVID-19,” warned Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque Jr, in his media briefing on May 18.

    People flocked SM North EDSA during the first day of MECQ
    People flocked SM North EDSA during the first day of MECQ  (Photo from Facebook/Mark Samson/TV5)

    The Palace official reminded the public that whether MECQ or GCQ, we are still under a community quarantine, and the public is advised to still stay at home to prevent getting infected with COVID-19.

    “Pero kung magmamatigas ang marami sa atin, marami po talaga ang magkakaroon ng COVID-19. Matutulad po tayo sa ibang mga bansa kung saan tumaas ang kaso ng COVID-19 pagkatapos irelax ang mga restrictions at ang mga tao ay hindi na sumusunod sa mga itinakdang health standards,” said Secretary Roque.

    The President’s spokesman also reminded mall owners to strictly implement the minimum health standards in their establishments like proper physical distancing, wearing of masks, among others. Secretary Roque added that commercial establishments that will not strictly implement crowd control and the minimum health standards will be closed again.

    With a possible increase in new cases and if people continue to disregard physical distancing and not follow minimum health standards, Secretary Roque said that he is not sure whether there will be enough hospital beds to accommodate a new wave of COVID-19 cases.

    Data from the Department of Health (DOH) show that we currently have 12,718 (as of May 18) COVID-19 cases and we only have 13, 457 total bed capacity dedicated for COVID-19, and only 1,963 ventilators.

    Meanwhile, there are 30 RT-PCR licensed laboratories that can conduct and analyze RT-PCR tests. In terms of temporary treatment and monitoring facilities, we have 40,497 total bed capacity in Ligtas COVID facilities. We also have 16 We Heal As One Centers with a total of 2,908 bed capacity.

    Despite the number of bed capacities in these isolation and temporary treatment facilities, Secretary Roque said that we should not be complacent. A doubling or tripling of our current number of COVID-19 cases will exceed the country’s current health capacity.

    “So pag tayo po ay nagmatigas, nagpatuloy ang dagsaan sa mga pampublikong lugar at kumalat ang sakit, 12,000 na po ngayon mahigit kumulang ang merong COVID-19, kapag po umikli yung tinatawag na doubling time at bumalik tayo sa two days doubling time, ang two days po ng 12,000 ay 24,000. So siguro po sa isang linggo o dalawang linggo, mauubos na yung sumatotal na kama natin at sa kalye na po kayo ilalagay, dahil mauubos na yung kama para sa mga may sakit,” warned Secretary Roque.

    In the same media briefing, Secretary Roque also underscored the latest updates from the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) including the approval of the revised IATF Omnibus Guidelines for the Implementation of Community Quarantine in the Philippines. The IATF Screening and Validation Committee also approved the reclassification of Cebu City and Mandaue City as areas under the ECQ, while Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Zambales, and Angeles City were reclassified as areas under MECQ, together with the National Capital Region and the province of Laguna.

    — The Summit Express

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