Rody okays shift to MECQ
NCR, 4 provinces under stricter lockdown; Honeylet to serve as frontliner
READ: Rody prolongs GCQ in Metro, five provinces MECQ will take effect midnight of August 4 and will last until August 18. The lockdown protocol upgrade was part of a seven-point recommendation that was firmed up during Sunday's meeting between Cabinet officials representatives of the Philippine Medical Association, the Philippine Nurses Association, and the Philippine Association of Medical Technologists. Other recommendations of the Cabinet are as follows: 1. Hire additional healthcare workers and form a healthcare worker reserve. The government will also enter into a memorandum of agreement with private hospitals to allow the deployment of state healthcare workers to private facilities until December 2020; 2. Give additional benefits to healthcare workers: P10,000 risk allowance for private sector healthcare workers and free life insurance under a pending bill; 3. Free accommodation and transportation as well as free and frequent COVID-19 testing for healthcare workers; 4. Require work and quarantine passes anew to minimize people going out on non-essential travels; 5. Ramp up localized lockdowns; and 6. Intensify street enforcement of guidelines for minimum health standards and procure 20 million cloth masks for the poor. Duterte said the government will seek to include the additional benefits sought by healthcare workers in the Bayanihan 2 measure pending in Congress. “We agree that you are bone-weary, I know you are tired to the bone – both the pressure and the stressful work, the uncertainty and the fear of getting COVID-19 and not having any in return,” the President said. “We are ready to consider stipend or allowances or pay. Give us time, and we will make a report, and we hope this will be included in the Bayanihan 2. I will give this to you ahora mismo, no delay,” he added. Duterte said he can understand if medical frontliners are now hesitating to work amid the health crisis as he cited the decision of his wife, Honeylet Avanceña, to volunteer as frontliner in the fight against COVID-19. “My wife has also volunteered to be a frontliner – she's a nurse,” the President said. “This is a war against microbes. Who are our soldiers? The nurses and the doctors. If you cannot go the extra mile, then I can understand you. I am very sorry, but I can understand you. But who else can we turn to?” Duterte added. On Saturday, at least 80 medical associations representing thousands of doctors signed a letter calling for a "timeout" amid the continuing surge of infections. “Health care workers are united in sounding off a distress signal to the nation—our health care system has been overwhelmed,” the letter read. Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, for his part, assured healthcare workers that they are "the most important people in our fight against COVID-19." He said the Duterte administration has prioritized the health of medical frontliners, proof of which is the reduced number of COVID-19 cases involving healthcare workers, from a high of 20 percent to 5.3 percent. Sunday's tally marks the first time more than 5,000 new cases were reported and brings the Philippines closer to having the highest number of infections across Southeast Asia, a position currently held by Indonesia with 109,936 cases.