Adjustments to the newly amended national guidelines on community quarantine and preparations for the mass vaccination program were discussed during the 3rd virtual meeting of the Bacolod City COVID-19 Vaccination (CoVac) Council Sunday 24 January 2020, a press release from Bacolod City PIO said.
Presided by Mayor Evelio Leonardia, the virtual dialogue heavily touched on the latest amendments to the National Inter-Agency Task Force’s (NIATF) Omnibus Guidelines on the Implementation of Community Quarantine in the Philippines.
Bacolod City has been placed under the Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) for several months now. MGCQ is considered the lowest community quarantine status as per NIATF guidelines.
Section 5 (3) of the amended Omnibus Guidelines provides that for areas placed under MGCQ, “[a]ny person below ten (10) years old, those who are over sixty-five (65) years of age and above, those with immunodeficiency, comorbidity, or other health risks, and pregnant women shall be required to remain in their residences at all times; xxx”
The amendments are effective beginning February 1. They were announced last January 21. Two days later – or on January 23 [Friday] – the Philippine Pediatric Society (PPS) and the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines (PIDSP) appealed to the NIATF to “reaffirm their position not to allow children aged 10 years old and older to go outside their residence.”
The PPS and the PIDSP said that they remain firm in recommending that children should stay at home with the pandemic still not over.
“The EOC Task Force will be waiting for the response of the NIATF to the PPS [and the PIDSP]. We will be waiting until the end of the month for a response and we will be adhering to the national law if no response comes from the NIATF,” said Leonardia, chairperson of the CoVac Council.
The mayor also warned that with the new coronavirus strain, “it is better to be safe than sorry.”
According to Emergency Operations Center (EOC) deputy for medical Dr. Chris Sorongon, the appeal made by the PPS and PIDSP is an attempt on caution, by preventing possible exposure of children to the virus.
This is important especially since according to Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran, some people are still not observing the prescribed minimum health protocols.
“Even now, if you ask our barangay captains, a lot of people are not even wearing masks, especially those 18 years old and above,” said Familiaran, vice chairperson of the CoVac Council.
On the other hand, preparations for the mass vaccination in Bacolod are currently being undertaken. Updates on vaccine delivery strategies and the conduct of information and education campaign on vaccine acceptance were discussed in the online meeting.
City Health Office (CHO) officer-in-charge Dr. Edwin Miraflor reported that at least 10 vaccination centers are planned to be set up in Bacolod.
Each of these centers will have their own four-man team composed of one vaccinator, one verifier, one recorder, and one assistant.
Meanwhile, City Administrator Em Ang, CoVac Council coordinator, said that the city eyes to vaccinate at least 80 percent of its 2020 projected population, or 491,198 out of 613,997 individuals.
Attending the CoVac Council meeting were Councilor Cindy Rojas, Councilor Renecito Novero, Council Israel Salanga, Councilor Ayesha Villaflor, City Legal Officer Atty. Joselito Bayatan, and City Assessor Atty. Maphilindo Polvora.
Also present were Dr. Anna Maria Laarni Pornan, Dr. Rosalie Deocampo, Dr. Hector Gayares, Dr. Rommela Tiples-Ruiz, president of the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases; Dr. Michael Thomas Salvador, president of the Philippine College of Physicians-Negros Occidental Chapter, and Executive Assistant Teresa Manalili.*/CITY PIO