Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said Monday the country could not maintain the strict community quarantines being implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Vergeire stressed out that implementing strict community quarantines measures is not the only way to stops virus transmission, noting continued lockdowns would affect the Philippine economy.
“There had been studies, even experts are saying that we cannot maintain these strict quarantine measures being implemented in the country, as they say, it is not the only intervention for this pandemic,” she said in an interview on CNN Philippines.
“Our economic managers are already saying if we continue to have these strict community quarantine measures, there would be a lot who are going to be hungry and other diseases will become evident,” Vergeire added when asked about possible more relaxed community measures in the Philippines beginning September.
The DOH official added that following minimum health standards are still one of the best measures to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier said the country could no longer sustain stricter community quarantines due to its long-term effects on the economy.
“We can no longer afford to revert to a higher quarantine status of MECQ (modified enhanced community quarantine) or ECQ because that will irreversibly injure if not damage the economy beyond repair,” Duque said during the ceremonial launching of “Mask Para sa Masa” initiative in Quezon City.
Philippine economy amid community quarantines
Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) chief Karl Kendrick Chua earlier said the Philippine economy is starting to “U-turn” amid the continuous increase of COVID-19 cases in the country.
The Philippine economy recorded its worst in 40 years after it shrank 16.5 percent in the second quarter.
The negative gross domestic product (GDP) from January to March and April to June also dragged the Philippines to a technical recession, the first time since 1991.
The economic contraction was blamed in the long months of lockdown to control the spread of coronavirus in the country.