Physicians group: Metro Manila hospitals ‘not yet ready’ for GCQ shift

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 17)— Hospitals in Metro Manila— where majority of the country’s COVID-19 cases are being reported— are “not yet ready” to shift to a more relaxed quarantine status this week, a physicians’ group said Monday.

Speaking to CNN Philippines, Philippine College of Physicians President Dr. Mario Panaligan stressed that the medical sector is not necessarily seeking for more “time out” amid the health crisis, but rather underscored the need for authorities to ramp up measures and policies to battle the pandemic.

“I should say, not yet (ready to shift to general community quarantine). Primarily because we’re still seeing many patients who are consulting the hospitals,” Panaligan said in an interview with The Source.

“There’s now this referral network that the One Hospital Command is doing. We just have to intensify it, making sure the referral network really functions well so that all those individuals who need to be transferred to other institutions can be done immediately,” he added.

Aside from boosting the hospital referral system, the group also sought for the intensification of the country’s telemedicine programs, as well as case detection methods and contact tracing protocols.

In an earlier interview with CNN Philippines, health advocate and former COVID-19 Task Force adviser Dr. Tony Leachon urged the national government to impose another round of the modified enhanced community quarantine in the capital region, arguing that the country’s “gains” from the fresh lockdown will only be put to waste.

Local chief executives in Metro Manila, on the other hand, sought a “stricter” form of GCQ, and have likewise recommended the tweaking of guidelines on the reopening of some sectors should the region ease to the relaxed quarantine measure.

The final decision, however, still lies in the hands of President Rodrigo Duterte, who is set to announce the new lockdown rules for Metro Manila and the provinces of Rizal, Cavite, Laguna, and Bulacan on Monday night.

Coronavirus infections in the country have surpassed 161,000, with the Health Department reporting over 3,000 new cases of the disease on Sunday.