DU30 places Naga under MECQ

By Ed G. Yu and Jason Neola


President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, June 14, reclassified the community quarantine status of Naga City from modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) to a stricter lockdown status of modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) from June 16-30 this year.


The announcement was made by Duterte during his weekly evening nationwide televised press briefing. Aside from Naga City, six other areas in the country were declared under MECQ, namely: Bataan, Lucena City, Iloilo, Negros Oriental, Dinagat Islands, and Surigao Del Sur.


Naga City Mayor Nelson Legacion, in an interview with the press a day after the President’s declaration, said that he was surprised by the reclassification of the community quarantine status of the city from MGCQ to MECQ. He explained that based from his talk with the representative of Department of Health (DOH), Naga City’s active Covid-19 cases as far as DOH’s record is concerned was more than 700 cases compared to the 351 active cases recorded by the city government. The mayor said that the classification of the 351 active cases was based on the parameters of the DOH.


Legacion also questioned the DOH data on the alleged high utilization rate of Covid-19 facilities in Naga City, which was used as one of the bases for the imposition of MECQ. Although the Bicol Medical Center (BMC), which is located in the city, has an 80 percent Covid-19 ICU occupancy rate prior to the MECQ reclassification, the city chief executive said that those confined at the BMC Covid-19 facilities are mostly residents of Camarines Sur towns and not Naga residents.


Moreover, he pointed out that of the 92 total bed capacity of city-run Covid-19 isolation and treatment facilities in the City College of Naga, Our Lady of Lourdes Infirmary and the newly opened Sta. Cruz High School, which can accommodate moderate and severe cases, only 19 beds are presently in use.


Noemi Bron, the DOH Bicol public affairs chief, when asked by Bicol Mail if the DOH regional office recommended the declaration of MECQ in Naga City, said there was no recommendation from the Bicol IATF to that effect. Maybe the declaration was based on the parameters of the national IATF, she added.


Data reconciliation


As this developed, the city’s Health Emergency Response Task Force (HERTF) and a team of DOH personnel are set to reconcile this week the discrepancy in the Covid-19 data on active cases, Allen Reondanga, Naga City spokesperson said.


He said the non-alignment of figures between the city and DOH may be traced to the three indicators being adopted by the health department: the Average Daily Attack Rate (ADAR), the 2-Week Growth Rate, and the Critical Care Utilization rate.


The two parties are expected to compare their records and come up with a realistic number of active Covid-19 cases in the city before next week.


MECQ guidelines


Meanwhile, the security cluster of the Naga City HERTF is strictly enforcing the health and safety protocols defined in the guidelines for modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) since Wednesday, June 16.


Legacion issued an executive order, which enumerated the MECQ guideline to ensure full enforcement of the protocols and guide the implementing authorities as well as the public in the conduct of activities while the new quarantine classification is in effect.


Under the city’s MECQ guidelines, police and barangay authorities are tasked to strictly implement 24/7 a general curfew except for “persons accessing goods and services from permitted establishments, working in authorized establishments and industries.”


“The gist of the guideline is that no person is allowed to stay outside their houses for non-essential matters, especially those who are below 18 years old and those who are over 65 years of age,” Reondanga, who is also the head of the City Events, Protocol, and Public Information Office (CEPPIO), said.


Included in the group of persons with movement restrictions are those with immunodeficiency, comorbidity, or other health risks, and pregnant women who are required to always remain in their residences, except for obtaining essential goods and services, or for work in industries and offices.


Workers are advised to bring with them their company-issued identification cards for unhampered movement.


“The city will guarantee a very strict implementation of the protocols, especially in enclosed settings. The travels of non-Naga residents to the city will surely be minimized because Naga is strictly inaccessible for all things that are non-essentials.” Reondanga said.


Based on HERTF data, the escalating number of Covid-19 cases in the city can be traced to lenient implementation of protocols and the public’s easygoing attitude in complying them. “Kaya po siguradong sisitaron asin matatawan nin citation ticket an siisay man na maglapas o ipasipara an protocols,” Reondanga said in his Facebook account.


The guideline also contained a list of industries that cannot operate during the MECQ. It includes: entertainment and recreational venues; amusement parks; outdoor sports venues for contact sports; indoor sports courts including spas and gyms; indoor and outdoor visitor/tourist attractions; venues for exhibitions; conferences and meetings; personal care services; and indoor dine-in services of food preparation establishments like restaurants and eateries.


With regards to the operation of accommodation establishments, only those with valid Department of Tourism (DOT) accreditation are allowed to house clients/guests for legitimate purposes under the state of a public health emergency.