Local government units (LGUs) should not let their guard down despite the reported decline in new COVID-19 cases. The season of get-together is once again upon us and that can translate to another spike in COVID-19 cases.
According to Bloomberg’s COVID Resilience Ranking of 53 countries last September, the Philippines is the worst place to be amid the pandemic in terms of virus containment, economy, and opening up. Unless the Philippines wants to stay behind, LGUs should heed the advice of former Health Secretary Manuel Dayrit to have an integrated local COVID-19 response system.
Dayrit, also a trustee of the Zuellig Family Foundation (ZFF), shared some tips on how LGUs can handle COVID-19 more effectively during a webinar with the governors of Agusan del Sur, Aklan, and Bataan. The webinar held last July 30 was part of ZFF’s Provincial Leadership and Governance Program (PLGP), which helps provinces manage the pandemic while preparing them for Universal Health Care systems integration.
Dayrit said that LGUs should enhance their Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Treat-Reintegrate (PDITR) strategy by increasing testing capacity, upgrading hospital and isolation facilities, improving contact tracing, locating clusters in the barangays, and understanding the transmission patterns.
He also highlighted the critical role of data-driven strategies in fast-tracking the containment of the virus. More aggressive testing should be done about 3 to 5 times than normal, especially with the highly infectious Delta variant. Dayrit reiterated using the results of contact tracing as part of ground-level risk communication to help stop transmission, especially within households.
Best practices of LGUs
Even while under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) status, Agusan del Sur implemented heightened border controls with strict adherence to health protocols. The local government also passed an ordinance penalizing people who do not follow minimum health standards. Further, the One Caraga Shield has laid out unified plans for the region’s COVID-19 response.
In Aklan, all tourism personnel was vaccinated to lessen the transmission among workers. The province also shared its strategies with the other LGUs within Western Visayas.
Meanwhile, Bataan has been concentrating prevention efforts at the barangay level to address super-spreader events. New vaccination sites are also opened weekly to fast-track the vaccination rollout as the province enjoys a fair share of vaccines being near Metro Manila.