‘Voluntary ECQ’: Ways how Filipinos can heed healthcare workers’ plea, according to Leachon

August 3, 2020 - 3:22 PM
Passengers wearing face masks for protection against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) maintain social distancing while queueing to ride a train in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, July 21, 2020. (Reuters/Eloisa Lopez)

Health reform advocate Dr. Tony Leachon, the former special adviser to the National Task Force against COVID-19, proposed steps on how individual Filipinos could comply with the strict quarantine protocols again.

In another late-night national address that aired on August 2, President Rodrigo Duterte approved the re-implementation of the modified enhanced community quarantine, which was first imposed from April to May.

This decision came after several health workers and frontliners nationwide called for tighter measures amid the surge of COVID-19 cases in the country.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed the reimposition of this measure to reporters in a text message. It will take effect from August 4 to 18.

Based on reports, MECQ covers the entire “Mega Manila” which include Metro Manila and the nearby provinces Laguna, Cavite, Rizal and Bulacan.

Hours before Duterte’s address, Leachon shared an infographic titled “Voluntary ECQ: Let’s help our frontliners and the country” on Facebook that encouraged regular Filipino citizens to observe the enhanced community quarantine on their own for two weeks.

He captioned it with: “Do you care for our medical front-liners? Let’s do voluntary ECQ!”

Leachon’s post was shared 11,000 times and earned 7,900 likes on the social networking site.

Do you care for our medical front-liners ? Let’s do voluntary ECQ ! 🇵🇭#RFCCTTO. #CreativeCookiesThank you dear friends.

Posted by Dr. Tony Leachon on Sunday, August 2, 2020


The steps he listed are:

  1. No going to church or places of worship. Pray and reflect online.
  2. No going to gyms and recreational facilities. Try online programs.
  3. No going to salons and barber shops. Wait or learn to do-it-yourself.
  4. No eating inside restaurants. Try delivery or cook at home.
  5. No to non-essential travel. Recover sleep and enjoy staying at home.
  6. Yes, to online transactions. Experience convenience.
  7. Employers allow your workforce to work at home whenever possible.
  8. Yes, to strictly observing protocols. Wear masks and sanitize.
  9. Yes, to unity and prayer. Let’s cooperate.

This proposal also gained traction on Twitter through the hashtag #VoluntaryECQ after several online personalities shared the infographic on the micro-blogging platform.

Rides for frontliners

Meanwhile, in a series of posts on Monday, Vice President Leni Robredo also announced the return of her free shuttle services for health workers in Metro Manila, which stopped after the National Capital Region transitioned to the general community quarantine phase last June.

“We’re bringing back our shuttle services for NCR starting tomorrow, August 4, until August 18,” she said.

“Like before, we will endeavor to be faithful to the designated times indicated. Any delay will be posted on our official FB page. You may check the sched of the routes in this thread,” she added.

Under MECQ protocols, all forms of mass transport are banned, and only private shuttles or vehicles are allowed.

Bicycles, motorcycles, and electronic scooters are also allowed. However, backriding is strictly prohibited.

Losing battle vs COVID-19

On Saturday, more than 80 medical societies in the Philippines signed a petition addressed to Duterte, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. (Chief implementer of the NTF) and Secretary Francisco Duque III (Department of Health) urging them to revert to ECQ in Mega Manila for two weeks as a form of “timeout” to their health workers.

“We are waging a losing battle against COVID-19 and we need to draw up a consolidated, definitive plan of action. Hence, we as your health care frontliners call on our national government to return Mega Manila to ECQ for a period of two weeks, from August 1 to 15,” part of their statement read.

Another group of health care professionals Second Opinion Philippines also joined in solidarity with their peers, stressing that it should be a “medical quarantine” this time.

“If we are to implement a quarantine, it must be a MEDICAL QUARANTINE, with healthcare workers in the lead and with clear health goals and outcomes. To truly benefit our overburdened healthcare workers, a new framework and new leadership direction than the ones we currently have are imperative,” part of their statement read.

Such appeals came after the total confirmed cases of COVID-19 reached more than 93,000 last Friday.

On Sunday, the country breached the 100,000-mark with 103,185 COVID-19 cases. Of these, 35,569 are active cases.

The death toll also rose to 2,059 while the total of reported recoveries stand at 65,557.

The phrases “Happy 100K,” “Congratulations Philippines” and “Happy Silver Play Button,” which refers to the YouTube award for reaching 100,000 subscribers, trended on local Twitter on the same day to mock the supposed feat.