By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
The Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases said the country’s fight against the dreaded coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is far from over despite encouraging developments on containing the pandemic.
Cabinet Secretary and IATF spokesman Karlo Nograles made the statement after it was announced that the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) was extended until the end of the month.
In his Wednesday virtual press conference, Nograles said he understands why people are asking where the country is in its fight against COVID-19.
“Nasaan na tayo sa kampanya natin laban sa COVID-19? Ang sagot ko sa ngayon: ‘di pa po tapos ang boksing (Where are we in our fight against COVID-19? My answer for now: the boxing match is not yet over),” he said.
Nograles reminded the public to continue following the protocols issued by the IATF to avoid getting or spreading the disease.
“There are encouraging developments and signs that we have made inroads to containing this outbreak, but as we enter a critical period in our efforts to comprehensively assess the extent of the outbreak, we urge everyone to continue to be vigilant and do their part to prevent the spread of this disease,” he said.
“Practice social or physical distancing. Wash your hands. Stay home and go out only when absolutely necessary,” he added.
The entire Luzon is under an ECQ due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The country has reported 3,764 cases of COVID-19, 177 of whom have recovered, while 84 have died.
Nograles reminded local government units (LGUs) outside Luzon to coordinate with the departments of Health (DOH) and the Interior and Local Government (DILG) if they will impose a community quarantine in their areas.
“We wish to reiterate that the ECQ covers the regions of Luzon. For areas outside Luzon, such as regions in Mindanao and the Visayas, local government units have the discretion to implement ECQs if they deem it necessary,” he said.
The Palace released the memorandum on the extension of the ECQ on Wednesday. Based on the memorandum from Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, all concerned agencies were directed to continue implementing existing ECQ guidelines until April 30.
“[This is] without prejudice to this Office’s discretion on the relaxation of the implementation of the ECQ in certain areas, or the grant of exemptions in favor of certain sectors, as public health and food security considerations may warrant,” Medialdea said in his memorandum.
“Such extension of the ECQ shall be without prejudice to the lifting or modification of existing guidelines, as may be approved by the IATF without need for further approval from this Office,” he added.