MANILA – Instead of extending the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Metro Manila and four nearby provinces beyond April 11, Malacañang on Monday said the government might downgrade it to modified ECQ (MECQ) to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this statement after announcing last Saturday that the ECQ placed over National Capital Region, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal has been extended until April 11.
Roque said the shift to a more relaxed quarantine status will depend on whether the government’s Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Treat-Reintegrate (PDITR) strategies have shown significant improvements in lowering daily Covid-19 infections.
“Prior to the ECQ that we imposed, we had a one-week travel bubble in NCR Plus and we’re looking at another week of MECQ after this week assuming our PDITR strategies work at the end of the two-week ECQ and another week of MECQ, we should be looking at around 4,000 cases daily,” he said in an interview over CNN Philippines.
He noted that a two-week ECQ followed by a week-long MECQ is expected to slash daily Covid-19 infection by around 4,000 a day.
“If we impose another week of ECQ in addition to the bubble and the one week of ECQ that we’ve had already, and if we were to impose another week of MECQ, we are looking at around 4,000 cases a day ‘no which is a tremendous reduction from the 12,000 that we have right now,” he added.
Roque said the government decided to extend the initial weeklong ECQ to another week to maintain the critical care capacity of the country’s hospitals.
“It was indispensable ‘no that we give our hospitals a breathing space and that’s why there was a decision to impose another week of ECQ,” he said.
In another interview over ANC’s Headstart, Roque admitted that a third week of placing NCR Plus under ECQ is “not a possibility” given lack of sources of funding needed to provide assistance to low-income families.
“Well, given what Secretary Avisado said that we have no more funds for ayuda (assistance) and Congress currently is on recess ‘no. So in case we need a supplemental budget, we would have to request for a special session, I don’t think ECQ for a third week is actually a possibility,” he said.
On March 29, President Rodrigo Duterte approved the release of PHP23-billion worth of emergency subsidy to about 22.9 million individuals in areas under ECQ.
Each recipient can avail of in-kind or cash assistance amounting to PHP1,000 per person or PHP4,000 per family.
Since March, the country has seen an increase in daily Covid-19 cases with over 11,000 new cases reported on Sunday.
As of Sunday, health authorities recorded a total of 795,051 confirmed Covid-19 cases of which 13,425 are deaths and 646,100 are recoveries. (PNA)