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Dr. Beverly Ho of the Department of Health (DOH) explained the concept of the “new normal” to about 739 barangay officials during the 16th L!STONG Ugnayan, COVID-19 ay Labanan online talakayan held on May 13, 2020.

The new normal are practices that should be in place so that people can continue with their lives despite the COVID-19 pandemic in accordance with DOH’s minimum health standards.

DOH issued the minimum health standards under Administrative Order (AO) 2020-0015 which according to her should be strictly followed regardless of the community quarantine of an area to prolong the peaking of cases and give time for the country to improve its health system.

Moreover, Dr. Ho clarified that the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) base its decision on the type of community quarantine for a locality on the analysis of risk levels wherein high risk or critical areas are subject to Enhanced Community Quarantine measures (ECQ) or modified ECQ, moderate risk or buffer areas are subject to General Community Quarantine (GCQ) protocols, and low risk areas need not quarantine their communities.

Interventions and response actions shall be stratified or targeted depending on the classification of the LGU”, she added.  

Dr. Ho stressed that should the community quarantine be lifted, citizens may continue living but would need to adopt the new normal practices as a means to reduce vulnerability, transmission, contact, and duration of infection.

She also shared the practices for different settings such as consistent disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, frequent hand washing, wearing of face mask, among others. However, she reminded the participants not to use disinfection tents for people as the process induces allergies and infections.

Physical distancing, according to Dr. Ho is literally physical separation only, but not totally sacrificing one’s mental health especially that being COVID-19 positive or recovered individuals may cause stigma. Thus, she emphasized the importance of constant communication with family members, relatives and friends.

Dr. Ho also highlighted awareness on domestic violence and misinformation citing that these cases are rampant during this trying time. She advocated for everyone to cooperate in avoiding these situations.

In summary, Dr. Ho advised the public to practice the new normal most especially the barangay workers by initiating efforts such as issuing ordinances, monitoring strict compliance, and being communication managers to help enforce the new normal practices in communities.

Inaasahan po namin na ang laban na ito ay laban ng bawat household o barangay dahil ang pagbabantay ay nasa barangay”, she ended.

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