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No more ‘new normal’ on IATF community quarantine scale

President Rodrigo Duterte holds a meeting with members of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on April 27, 2020.

MANILA, Philippines — The entire Philippines will remain under quarantine for now as the government's task force on the coronavirus pandemic has removed "new normal" in the list of possible classification of areas.

The government defines "new normal" as "emerging behaviors, situations, and minimum public health standards that will be institutionalized in common or routine practices and remain even after the padenic while the disease is not totally eradicated."

Low-risk areas that no longer need to be placed under any quarantine scenario were supposed to graduate to "new normal" but are still required to observe health standards and safe distancing.

The Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), however, changed parameters on the classification of areas, citing "developments in the situation of the COVID-19 health event in the country."

Under the new parameters, which are contained in IATF Resolution No. 48 issued on Monday, areas may be placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), general community quarantine (GCQ) and the most lenient modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).

The risk classification of areas will still be based on their case doubling time and critical care utilization rate, which will determine whether they can still take care of persons who will get sick.

High risk areas will be placed under ECQ or MECQ depending on modifiers, including the availability of health facilities. Moderate-risk areas will be under GCQ or MGCQ while low-risk areas will shift to MGCQ.

The modifiers for MECQ and MGCQ are social, economic, and security factors, clustering of cases, health system capacity, and continuous trend of new cases.

"For now, there is no 'new normal.' That means, all areas in the Philippines will still be under community quarantine," presidential spokesman Harry Roque said at a press briefing.

"For now, that is the agreement but that's not permanent because guidelines change as members of the IATF meet," he added.

Roque said the adjustments were intended to prevent a second wave of the virus.

"We are very careful while we are in the first wave. We have to reduce the numbers while we are in the first wave… There will be no 'new normal' in our classification and everyone will remain under quarantine," he added.

Resolution No. 48 also enumerated the requirements for local governments that wish to appeal their quarantine classification namely daily trend of active cases, number, and percent of population; percent of close contacts traced and percent of contacts in quarantine; number and use of community isolation beds; health system capacity targets and utilization; COVID-19 special teams investigations and results; and priority areas for segmental lockdown.

The IATF has also adopted five epidemiologic curves as basic reporting parameters to streamline the dissemination of information on the COVID-19 situation.

They are the national daily number of cases adjusted for date of report, including seven-day moving average; national daily number of cases around the country; association of number of daily tests and daily postivity rate; time varying reproduction number and daily positivity rate; and COVID-19 deaths over time.

Credit belongs to : www.philstar.ca

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