NCR local governments told to activate Covid-19 task forces

THE Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has directed all local governments in the National Capital Region to activate their local Covid-19 task forces in a bid to prevent community transmission of the respiratory disease.

The DILG issued the directive shortly after the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed on Saturday, March 7, local transmission of the novel coronavirus, which causes Covid-19, and raised its alert level to Code Red sub-level 1.

This is also in anticipation of President Rodrigo Duterte declaring the country under a State of Public Health Emergency on Monday, March 9, 2020.

In a statement, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said the Local Covid-19 Task Force of NCR must work double-time to ensure that further spread of the virus will be halted.

“Local transmissions pose greater chances for the virus to spread and that’s the last thing we want to happen. Kaya naman inaatasan ko ang mga LGU ng NCR to activate their LCTF o Local Covid-19 Task Force to prevent the situation from escalating,” Año said.

He also said the Barangay Health Emergency Response Team (BHERT), which has been organized in six out of 10 barangays nationwide, could help monitor and contain the spread of the virus.

The BHERT is expected to visit the homes of arrivals from a coronavirus-infected country to ensure that they have followed quarantine protocols.

The DOH on Saturday announced that the fifth Covid-19 case in the country, a 62-year-old Filipino who lives in Cainta, Rizal and is known to visit a Muslim prayer hall in San Juan City, is a case of local transmission.

The patient, who is in critical condition at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), infected his wife, who became the country’s sixth Covid-19 case.

The wife, 59 years old, has a mild case of Covid-19. Household members have been placed under home quarantine.

The fourth case, a 48-year-old Filipino, also has a mild form of Covid-19. He works for Deloitte’s office in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City, Metro Manila and has history of travel from Japan.

The first three cases were Chinese tourists. One had died while the two others have recovered and returned to China. Two were confined at the San Lazaro Hospital while the third was admitted to a hospital in Bohol in Central Visayas.

Año said the Local Covid-19 Task Force or LCTF shall direct the local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office and local City Health Office, upon receiving the referrals from the DOH-Emergency Operations Center, to coordinate directly with, and convey or transport, the symptomatic persons to the nearest DOH referral facility for Covid-19 testing.

At the DOH referral facility, the symptomatic persons confirmed as patients under investigation (PUI) will undergo triage to distinguish between mild and severe cases.

Año said the LCTF will coordinate closely with the DOH-Center for Health Development.

The DILG also directed all DILG city directors to coordinate closely with their local chief executives, who will in turn work closely with the DOH regional office.

Meanwhile, Año urged barangays that have not organized their own BHERT to do so.

A BHERT is composed of an executive officer, a barangay tanod, and two barangay health workers, including a nurse or a midwife.

Data from the DILG-National Barangay Operations Office showed that only Bicol Region registered 100 percent compliance with all 3,471 barangays having organized BHERTs.

Other regions with high compliance rates are Central Luzon with 99.42 percent, Soccsksargen with 96.9 percent, and Caraga with 90.47 percent.

Other regions that have organized BHERTs are Western Visayas with 89.24 percent compliance rate, Central Visayas with 83.85 percent, Calabarzon with 81.19 percent, NCR with 78 percent, Zamboanga with 63.71 percent, Mimaropa with 52.74 percent, Ilocos with 35.2 percent, and Northern Mindanao with 5.29 percent. (MVI/SunStar Philippines)