MANILA, Philippines — Local governments should step up their efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic as a new surge in cases approaches the peak levels recorded from July to September 2020, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III warned during the pre-recorded briefing with President Rodrigo Duterte that aired late Monday night.
“So we need to stop these cases. If not, we might see a rise beyond the July to August peak of COVID-19 cases,” Duque said in Filipino.
“That’s why we’re urging local government units to really intensify their efforts, their preventive interventions, and their early detection system by way of aggressive active case finding,” he added.
The July to August surge forced a reimposition of stringent lockdown measures in some areas. Currently, stricter quarantine measures have not been reinstated, but curfews have been placed again in Metro Manila in an effort to curb the surge.
According to Duque, LGUs must ensure that possible COVID-19 cases are detected ahead of time to prevent further infections.
He suggested that local officials seek the help of barangay health emergency response teams in identifying those showing symptoms and if possible isolate them so they could not infect others.
They should also conduct immediate testing and aggressive contact tracing.
As of Monday, the Department of Health has recorded 5,404 new COVID-19 infections, pushing the total number of active cases to 53,479. This was the highest daily increase in cases recorded in 2021 and since August 22.
Nationwide, there are now 626,893 total confirmed cases, with 560,577 of these tagged as recoveries, and 12,837 deaths.
Local governments have been instrumental in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, so much that surveys have shown people lauding some Metro Manila mayors for maximizing limited resources to provide a semblance of normalcy in their areas.
According to an August 2020 survey conducted by the Social Weather Station (SWS), three of five respondents believe that the national government should assume more responsibility for fighting the pandemic.
The survey results came out while the national government was getting criticized for relying too much on the ability of local governments to address the crisis.
Analytics group OCTA Research warned that a new COVID-19 surge was spreading faster than initially predicted, which may result in 4,000 new daily cases for Metro Manila by the end of March.
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