MANILA, Philippines — The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has appealed to the public to support whatever recommendation they will give President Rodrigo Duterte on the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, the IATF-EID spokesperson, said the body must decide soon whether to lift, extend or expand the scope of the lockdown which will end on April 12.
“We have to make a decision and we have to make it as soon as possible. But it will not be an easy decision … It’s very, very difficult because there are many factors that we have to look at,” Nograles said in a virtual press briefing on Monday.
He added that the IATF-EID is grateful for all the recommendations it is getting from all sectors, such as the business and the academe, as he assured the public that the IATF-EID’s decision will be “scientific and data driven.”
The IATF-EIDis expected to meet on Monday afternoon and tackle the implications of recent COVID-19 data over the weekend, particularly if there is a clear trend in the infection rate.Over the weekend, National Task Force on COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. said the government was studying the possibility of extending the lockdown by 15 to 20 days.
The ECQ is initially set to end on Easter Sunday, while the mass testing will begin on April 14.
Nograles said a technical working group (TWG), led by the Department of Health, has been directed to “apply the parameters” in deciding the fate of the ECQ—either for its total or partial lifting, its possible extension or expansion to other areas.
Nograles said the TWG is taking into consideration the trends in the COVID-19 epidemiological curve, such as the doubling time, acceleration or deceleration of new cases.
Decision ‘very soon’
According to presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, Duterte is expected to announce his decision on the ECQ “very soon.”
“The President is seriously evaluating the inputs and suggestions given by various sectors of society for either the extension or the lifting of the enhanced community quarantine or lockdown and will take the best option that will purge us of this pandemic disease,” Panelo said in a statement.
He also urged everyone to take the lockdown seriously as a public health measure, saying violators will be dealt with in accordance with the law.
“The President appeals to all our countrymen to take seriously the matter of following the protocols and procedures established by the national government to ensure the success of our fight against the pandemic,” Panelo said.
Should it be decided that the ECQ will be extended by a few more weeks, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said on Monday that he would recommend for the extension of the cash grant for workers displaced by the lockdown.
Bello said the extension would allow them to reach more workers in need of financial assistance.
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