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Transition to ‘new normal’ approved

Some areas in the country with zero transmission of coronavirus disease 2019 may transition to a “new normal” quarantine classification by February, Malacañang said yesterday.

In a Palace press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has approved “in principle” his proposal to place some areas of the country under the “new normal” classification next month.

He said the basis to determine areas to be placed under the new normal classification will be based on scientific data, specifically case doubling rate and critical care capacity.

“It will still depend on data because we follow analytics when it comes to determining quarantine classifications. But what I can say is, I have long pushed for and the IATF has approved my proposal to declare areas under the new normal, these are places with no new transmissions,” he said.

Roque said placing some areas under the new normal classification may spark hope among the public that life can continue even if Covid-19 vaccines are yet to be available locally.

“In this case, we can have hope that there is an end to the Covid-19 pandemic even if we don’t have vaccines yet because there are places with no transmission. So that we can determine if they can return to normal,” he added.

Currently, he said the IATF is now formulizing the dos and don’ts in areas to be placed under the new normal classification.

“What they are crafting now are the dos and don’ts under the new normal because once we transition to a new normal, some might start to hold rock concerts. That’s what we need to clarify, the dos and don’ts,” he said.

He also explained that the IATF-EID may continue to place areas under quarantine classifications until a vaccine is available and the country has reached herd immunity.

“But I don’t think the IATF will lose jurisdiction unless we have reached what you call herd immunity,” he said.

New normal, according to IATF guidelines, refers to the “emerging behaviors, situations, and minimum public health standards that will be institutionalized in common or routine practices and remain even after the pandemic while the disease is not totally eradicated through means such as widespread immunization”.

These include actions that will become second nature to the general public as well as policies such as bans on large gatherings that will continue to remain in force, the guidelines read.

Currently, Metro Manila, the provinces of Batangas, Lanao del Sur, and Davao del Norte, and the cities of Tacloban, Iligan, and Davao are under general community quarantine until the end of the month. The rest of the country remains under the least stringent modified general community quarantine.*PNA

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