By Genalyn Kabiling
In light of mounting calls for a two-week extension of the Luzon-wide quarantine, President Duterte is committed to review the situation and take the “best option” to ensure the country’s success in the battle against the coronavirus.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the President will make his decision on the matter in “due time” after evaluating the “unfolding reality” as well as advice from experts.
“There is an emerging consensus coming from medical experts, businessmen, government officials, and other well-meaning individuals that an extension of two weeks for the enhanced community quarantine or lockdown is necessary, as lifting it could be premature as it might wipe out the gains we have so far achieved in containing the virus,” Panelo said in a statement Sunday.
“The President is all ears and eyes on this unfolding reality and expert opinions. He is evaluating the best option to take that will effectively insure the success of our war against this wily and faceless global enemy,” he added.
President Duterte earlier ordered the month-long enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon to stem the spread of the new coronavirus. The stringent quarantine measures that mandated residents to stay at home, suspended public transport, and encouraged alternative work arrangements will expire on April 12.
The number of cases of infections in the country have surged daily despite the quarantine measures in place. As of April 5, the health department has reported 152 new cases, bringing the total number of cases to 3,246, while the death toll has reached 152.
Earlier, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases is expected to hold a meeting on Monday to discuss whether the Luzon quarantine will be lifted, extended, or expanded to other places. The task force will then submit a recommendation to the President for his final decision.
The parameters taken into consideration by the government are trends in the COVID-19 epidemiological curve, which include, among others, the doubling time, acceleration, or deceleration of new cases; capacity of the health care system, that includes availability of quarantine centers and protective gear to frontliners, and capability for contact tracing and testing; social factors; economic factors; and security factors.
Panelo, meantime, appealed anew for public cooperation and solidarity in defeating the coronavirus outbreak.
“We call on our countrymen to be steadfast in our commitment to take care of each other in this imminent threat to our nation’s survival. With God’s grace, and our bayanihan spirit, we will triumph,” he said.