Duterte approved the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to place Iligan City under a Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ).
Metro Manila will experience a month-long quarantine instead of the fortnightly extensions implemented in the past months.
Like Metro Manila, Bulacan, Batangas, and the cities of Tacloban and Bacolod will also be under GCQ from September 1 to 30.
The rest of the Philippines will stay under Modified GCQ, according to presidential spokesman Harry Roque’s statement in the same meeting with IATF.
The president also commended medical frontliners during the meeting, describing them as modern heroes on National Heroes Day. He said that they can reach out to Covid-19 National Task Force Chief Secretary Carlito Galvez if they have been evicted from their houses by landlords and neighbors. They will be sent to hotels at the government’s expense.
Duterte also mentioned the “consistent” effort to bring home OFWs displaced by the coronavirus pandemic. Moreover, he announced that the children of OFWs who lost their jobs or were hit by Covid-19 will receive aid for college education. Each of the 33,000 students from OFW families will receive P30,000 through the Commission on Higher Education.
Meanwhile, Duterte called on Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo “Jagger” Guerrero to implement a more aggressive approach in blocking the stream of illegal drugs into the country.
New Philhealth president
Duterte announced that the new president of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (Philhealth) will be Dante Gierran, who was present in the late night meeting.
Iligan, the city in Lanao del Norte, saw a 136-percent spike in coronavirus cases over the last two weeks. More than 20 members of its local COVID-19 response team were exposed to persons who tested positive for the deadly disease, as its tally surged to 246 from just 104 cases last Aug. 12.
Zamboanga City, like Iligan also in Mindanao, also saw a surge in cases owing to locally-stranded individuals (LSIs) coming home, COVID-19 National Task Force Chief Secretary Carlito Galvez reported.
According to Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, it is impossible to maintain strict community quarantine measures in the long run.“There had been studies, even experts are saying that we cannot maintain these strict quarantine measures being implemented in the country,” she said in an interview on CNN Philippines.
“Our economic managers are already saying if we continue to have these strict community quarantine measures, there would be a lot who are going to be hungry and other diseases will become evident,” she noted.
Vergeire placed emphasis on observing minimum health standards as one of the most effective steps that can curb the spread of the coronavirus.