The Philippine National Police on Wednesday said law enforcement officers would not necessarily arrest people who would leave their homes without face shields and face masks, as they might instead supply these to the violators instead.
PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana said the PNP received donations of face masks and shields and the cops would use these as they enforce guidelines issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force against COVID-19.
Usana told ANC’s Headstart: “During the press conference, our Chief PNP, Gen. Debold Sinas, said we don’t have to impose sanctions right away. It’s possible that if the police officers have face shields or masks for our citizens, they can give away this personal protective equipment.”
“What we understand is it is the local government unit that will be issuing appropriate sanctions with regard to the compliance to the guidelines of the IATF.”
The PNP expects an influx of people outside their homes during this Christmastime and underscores that this may lead to a rise in COVID-19 infections. Usana said the police force hoped these individuals would comply with the policies and discipline themselves.
Higher attack rate
At least 12 cities in Metro Manila have registered a COVID-19 daily attack rate and reproduction rate of more than 1, prompting authorities to place them under strict monitoring, the Department of Health said Wednesday.
“These cities in Metro Manila are showing more than 1 average daily attack rate and reproduction rate that’s why we are monitoring them,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during an online press forum.
“But that is not to say that we are not monitoring the whole Metro Manila because we have seen plateauing of cases in other cities, meaning it did not continue to go down,” Vergeire added.
With no decrease in the number of COVID-19 cases in sight, authorities have been placed on high alert, she said.
“This is a warning signal for us to start focusing and [conduct] strict monitoring of all cities in Metro Manila,” Vergeire said.
The OCTA Research Team on Monday said there had been an uptrend in the reproduction rate of COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila, and this was expected to continue in the coming days.
OCTA previously said that a value higher than one indicated the pandemic was spreading.
From 0.90 on December 1, NCR’s reproduction number hit 0.94 on December 5, then reached 0.96 on December 10. On Dec. 11, the reproduction number in the region was at 0.99. It was 0.88 last November, Dr. Guido David of OCTA Research Team said.
Based on DOH data, Metro Manila remains the region with the most number of active COVID-19 cases recorded in the last two weeks with 4,399.
Region 4A or Calabarzon is a far second with 2,702 cases, followed by Region 3 which has 1,587.
Vergeire, however, clarified that the data did not show that those aged 17 and below were super spreaders even though they were largely asymptomatic when they got the disease.
“We do not have this kind of data. We do not see that kind of trend,” Vergeire said.
OCTA said the number of COVID-19 cases in the country would reach close to 500,000 by the end of the year.
Dr. David said their projection was based on the coming Christmas celebrations after nine months in quarantine.
The Philippines logged on Wednesday 1,156 new coronavirus disease 2019 cases, bringing the total to 452,988, as five laboratories failed to submit their data on time, DOH reported.
This is the 17th straight day that the number of new cases announced is below 2,000, and the 4th straight day below 1,500.
Top cities and provinces with new cases are Davao City, 126; Quezon City, 66; Rizal Province, 64; Bulacan, 56; and Manila, 38.
DOH also reported 425 persons who recovered, in their “mass recovery adjustment”, bringing the total recoveries to 419,282, or 92.6 percent of the total.
The DOH also reported 21 new fatalities, bringing the death toll to 8,833, or 1.95 percent of the total.
More than 425,000 Filipinos have subjected themselves to swab tests for the coronavirus disease 2019 in December alone, in preparation for their trips to their respective home provinces for the holiday season, DOH data showed.
According to a “24 Oras” report on Tuesday, at least 425,799 people have been swabbed this month ahead of the holidays.
Some testing facilities have begun offering holiday promos amid the uptick in requests for testing.
Other health facilities have introduced home and drive thru testing.
The government earlier set the swab test price cap at P3,800 for public laboratories and P5,000 for private facilities.
The public was earlier warned that family reunions are discouraged amid the pandemic as they are also considered mass gatherings that might trigger the spread of COVID-19.
The Philippine Red Cross, which accounts for a huge chunk of the COVID-19 tests performed daily, earlier suspended tests chargeable to the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) over P930 million in unpaid debt.
PhilHealth since made several payments to the Red Cross, but the humanitarian organization’s chief, Senator Richard Gordon, said expenses still kept piling up.
Earlier this month, Gordon said PhilHealth had accrued P659 million in debt.
The 192 testing laboratories across the country have tested over 5.9 million individuals as of December 14, according to the DOH.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, with Assistant Secretary Elmer Punzalan, and Metro Manila Center for Health Development OIC - Director Corazon Flores, and Pasay City Mayor Imelda Calixto-Rubiano visited the LRT-1 EDSA and MRT-3 Taft station to check if the MPHS was observed by commuters in high-density stations of the railway lines.
Light Rail Manila Corporation President and CEO Juan Alfonso led the visit for LRT-1 EDSA station and explained their strategy on how to manage commuters and to mitigate the spread of the virus.
Alfonso explained: “We only allow an average of about 375 passengers per train, which is 30 percent of the overall capacity per train set.”
“We also have roving marshals who remind our passengers of the health protocols such as proper use of face mask and shield, barriers to ensure safe distancing, no talking and eating policy, and other minimum public health standards mandated by the DOH.”