MANILA, Philippines — Another lawmaker is seeking a two-week extension of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) imposed in the Luzon region amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda, who chairs the House committee on ways and means, on Thursday said that a “premature lifting of the ECQ would not be good for the economy.”
“I’m as invested in getting the economy running as anybody would be. Ako po ang unang mamom-roblemang maghanap ng pondo bilang Ways and Means Chair kapag hindi maganda ang ekonomiya (I will be the first one to have problems with looking for funds as chair of the ways and means committee if the economy is not good). But a premature lifting of the ECQ would not be good for the economy,” Salceda said in a statement.
“It will not fulfill our public health objectives. And it risks getting us back to square zero in terms of our progress in fighting this disease,” the lawmaker added.
Salceda also said that “the most reputable sources in the medical community” have also never suggested shortening a “lockdown.”
They instead propose “at least 6-week lockdowns to avoid prematurely lifting restrictions and triggering a massive wave of new infections,” the lawmaker said.
“The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation says we can keep lockdowns to 6 to 10 weeks, if countries do well. The Hubei lockdowns which worked remarkably were 6 to 8-week shutdowns. And Northern Italy has been on lockdown since March 9, with no end in sight yet,” Salceda said.
Salceda also said that during the Spanish Flu pandemic, New York, which imposed a lockdown at the early stage of the pandemic, had the lowest death rate among major cities in the United States east coast.
“They did it for 12 weeks. Sharp increases in death rates took place when San Francisco lifted its quarantine after 4 weeks. St. Louis had to do it for a total of 10 weeks. Five weeks initially, but they lifted the quarantine prematurely, so they had to do it all over again,” Salceda said.
“That’s what I’m trying to avoid – the need to do it all over again,” he added.
Caloocan City 2nd District Rep. Edgar Erice earlier called on the government to extend the quarantine in Luzon for another 30 days.
Erice said that the gains from the current imposition of the quarantine in a bid to prevent the spread of COVID-19 “will all just be wasted” if an extension will not be put in place.
Salceda also recommended mass testing as a part of government’s efforts to combat COVID-19.
“We must increase our testing by at least 10,000 specimens per day, contact trace and isolate with the best logical and technological means available (mobile tracking, GPS, mapping, etc.),” Salceda said.
“We must identify infection clusters with data from mass testing and intensified contact tracing, and confront the virus where it is,” he added.
The lawmaker also said that “we can only make a risk-stratified stabilization or normalization if we do mass testing of at least 200,000.”
“Based on our capacity and possible increments, we cannot do that before April 14, thus we cannot lift ECQ and we will need the next 14 days to have a better grasp of situation,” Salceda said.
“The damage to the economy will be much bigger if we have to start all over again. Nandito na po tayo. Habang tumataas na ang testing capacity natin, samantalahin na po natin ‘yung pagkakataon to decisively end this virus,” he added.
(We are already here. While our testing capacity increases, let’s take advantage of it to decisively end this virus.)
As of April 2, the number of persons in the country who have contracted the disease has soared to 2,633, with the death toll also rising to 107.
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