MANILA, Philippines — Several lawmakers weighed in on Monday on the possible extension of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) imposed in the Luzon region as a part of government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Agusan Del Norte 1st District Rep. Lawrence Fortun backed the further extension of the quarantine, saying that while the increase was not as high as before, there are still cases being confirmed.
“Encouragingly notable, though, is the number of recoveries surpassing deaths, and the slowing down of the spread. But we cannot relent as the numbers still don’t advise that it’s time to drop some guards,” the lawmaker said.
The extension, however, should be accompanied by other government measures such as mass testing and effective contact tracing as well as availability of medical supplies such as personal protective equipment (PPE), Fortun said.
Ako Bicol Rep. Alfredo Garbin, meanwhile, proposed a modified community quarantine which still entails the observance of social distancing and the mandatory wearing of face masks.
However, “essential stores” will be opened and industries such as manufacturing will be allowed to operate.
“Companies engage in manufacturing should be allowed, public transport restored but with restrictions as to its passengers capacity and restriction to travel,” Garbin said.
“By now we should be discussing about the exit strategy supported by data in order to come up with an informed risk assessment. But here we are, April 20, still argue about testing were nowhere to be health experts suggest,” the lawmaker added.
Likewise, Kabayan Rep. Ron Salo said the Department of Health (DOH) and the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases should be ready with the protocols and guidelines in the event of a partial or total lifting of the quarantine.
“The early release of these protocols will give the general public and concerned agencies ample time to prepare and make clarifications, when necessary, before these are actually implemented in order to avoid any confusion, as experienced in the first few days of the ECQ’s implementation,” Salo said.
“This will also ensure that the gains we achieved during the ECQ will not be wasted, and any second wave of COVID-19 infection will be avoided,” he added.
President Rodrigo Duterte has placed all of Luzon under an enhanced community quarantine in March as the number of people infected with the new virus swells. The lockdown was supposed to end mid-April but Duterte extended it until April 30.
As of April 20, there are 6,459 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country, with the death toll reaching 428.
Edited by JPV
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