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Manila Archdiocese to ‘revert’ to ECQ protocols for 2 weeks, to hold religious activities online

The Archdiocese of Manila on Saturday said it will “revert to the period of the ECQ protocols” and will not hold public religious activities for two weeks.

Bishop Broderick Pabillo, the apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Manila, said in a pastoral instruction the move is in response to the call of medical front liners for a “time out.”

“As a response to the call of our medical people, all the churches and shrines in the Archdiocese of Manila will revert to the period of the ECQ protocols,” he said.

“We will not hold public religious activities from August 3 to August 14 but we continue our online religious activities,” Pabillo said.

The two-week period will be used, he said, “to evaluate our church response to the pandemic and see how we can improve them.”

“We in the Church hear their call,” Pabillo said, referring to the appeal made by medical front liners early Saturday for a two week “time out” period.

Various medical associations on Saturday called on President Rodrigo Duterte to place the National Capital Region under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) again as health workers were already worn out due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases being admitted in hospitals.

“The medical community appeals for return to enhanced community quarantine in Mega Manila from August 1 to 15 to recalibrate strategies against COVID-19,” according to the joint letter read by Philippine Medical Association president Jose Santiago in a virtual press conference.

“Health care workers are united in sounding a distressed signal to the nation. Our healthcare system is overwhelmed,” Santiago said.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Saturday said he would put forward medical frontliners' suggestion that Metro Manila be once again placed under ECQ to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).

"We hear you," Duque said in a statement, as he vowed that the DOH was committed to doing more to “care for our carers” with detailed plans for support.

Members of the Cabinet and the IATF gathered late Saturday night to discuss concerns raised by the medical community.

The meeting was called by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, according to Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr.

'Time out'

Pabillo noted that the medical front liners are dedicated but many of them are tired and discouraged.

“We share the compassion of the medical front liners for the many sick people being brought to our hospitals. We have witnessed their dedicated service to those who come to them. Many among them are tired and even discouraged by their heavy responsibilities. So we support their appeal for a ‘time out,’” Pabillo said.

The bishop said the Archdiocese understands that the call was made by the medical front liners “not only for their own respite, though they truly need one.”

“They call for a period of time to reassess the response that we as a country have to this pandemic. It seems that the current responses are not working because the cases are rising after four months and a half of quarantine,” Pabillo said.

The bishop said the public should take seriously the medical front liners’ call to observe health protocols such as using face masks, observing physical distancing, doing frequent hand washing “and not going out of the house unless truly necessary.”

“These may be simple things but they help a lot in stemming the spread of the virus,” he added.

Pabillo also asked those who can to give to those who are badly affected by the pandemic. “Let us give whatever we can, however little it may be, so that no one may suffer the pangs of hunger,” he said.

The bishop then called on the faithful to “intensify our prayers that our front liners may be kept safe, that those who are sick may get well soon, and that all our families be protected from the virus.”

The total number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines grew to 98,232 on Saturday after another record-high 4,963 new infections were recorded by the Department of Health.

Meanwhile, 93 more cases have recovered bringing the total number of recoveries to 65,265. Seventeen deaths were added, bringing the death toll up to 2,039.

The total active cases are now 30,928. —KG, GMA News