President Duterte: Yet to decide on ECQ extension
MANILA — More areas in the country, particularly in the National Capital Region (NCR) and outlying provinces, have been placed under tighter restrictions for April as coronavirus infections rise, but President Rodrigo Duterte has yet to decide whether to extend the enhanced community quarantine imposed on Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal beyond April 4.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) still has to meet and discuss the issue on Black Saturday, April 3, in order to be able to give an appropriate decision on the matter.
Presidential spokesperson Atty. Harry Roque, however, quickly added that extending the hard lockdown in Metro Manila and the four surrounding provinces will be “an absolute last resort.”
“The first option is actually to resort to reopening the economy if possible because we know that the aid we are providing is stopgap. That is not for the total health of our countrymen, that is just to help them survive from meal to meal. It’s more important to give everybody the chance to work,” Roque said in a press briefing.
Prior to this, health experts have recommended an extension of the lockdown in Metro Manila and the four adjacent provinces to really bring down the number of new Covid-19 cases, which has been rising sharply in recent weeks.
Roque opined that there was a “50-50” chance that the President would extend the lockdown.
“We’re hoping the one week (restrictions) will lead to lower numbers,” he enthused.
But what is most important for the government, he stressed, is the critical care capacity, and we want to ensure that hospitals will be able to treat severe cases.
“That is what we will ask on Saturday. Can the hospitals still cope?” he pointed out.
For his part, vaccine czar secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., head of the National Task Force Against Covid-19, said he was open to experts’ recommendation to extend the hard lockdown.
“If the increase in the number of cases in the country has not plateaued or has not gone down, that would mean the measures put in place would have to be completed. (But) we are open to the recommendation of our experts to extend it to 14 days because they say the (incubation) period of the virus is 14 days,” Galvez noted. (AI/MTVN)