Government eyes phase-by-phase lifting of ECQ

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The government is considering a phase-by-phase lifting of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon.

World Health Organization (WHO) earlier warned against the abrupt lifting of lockdown worldwide to prevent the spread of pandemic COVID-19.

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The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases would meet today to deliberate on possible scenarios and measures to be implemented after April 30.

Cabinet Secretary and IATF spokesman Karlo Nograles said the country should consider the WHO’s reminder on the risks of the premature lifting of lockdown.

“We have to follow, if ever, the advice of the WHO, that we cannot be abrupt on this. So one of the options being eyed is phase-by-phase (lifting). Maybe it should be targeted. We have to choose (which establishments) should reopen and what workforce would be allowed to work, what transport systems would be allowed,” Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles told radio station dzBB yesterday.

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“We have these kinds of guidelines that should be imposed, and once they are approved by President Duterte, we would have new dos and don’ts,” said Nograles.

Also read: Duque pushes for 24-hour COVID-19 testing

Lifting of ECQ to be discussed today

The Luzon-wide quarantine started on March 17 and was supposed to end on April 12. President Rodrigo Duterte decided to have a lockdown extension until April 30 to give the government ample time to conduct more testings and build more quarantine facilities.

The government also warned yesterday that stringent protocols would be reimposed in case of COVID-19 cases resurgence after the quarantine ended.

Nograles meanwhile assured the Filipinos the government would act quickly if the virus cases in the country would spike again.

“There is a caveat… If the numbers increase, if there is a new spike or surge or resurgence or second wave or relapse, whatever terminology will be used, the bottom line is if we see another increase in the number of cases, we have to be prepared. The government has to decide quickly,” he said.

“We need to be strict again, implement again the enhanced community quarantine, either as a whole or in particular localities. Our action should be swift,” he added.

“We do not know yet what will happen (today). Hopefully, we will arrive at a consensus. Whatever recommendations to be presented, ultimately, it will be President Duterte who will decide,” he said.

As of this posting, the Philippines has 6,259 cases, 409 deaths, and 572 recoveries.

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