By Martin Sadongdong
The government is open to the possibility of easing the enhanced community quarantine and adopting a “selective” lockdown in identified areas if certain parameters are met, the national task force (NTF) on 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) bared on Easter Sunday.
Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., NTF COVID-19 chief implementer and Presidential Peace Adviser, said the parameters include a surge in the number of recoveries, decline in the number of deaths, decrease in the number of new cases, and improved capability of healthcare units to cope with the demand of new patients.
Galvez added the strict implementation of community quarantine from the barangay to the regional level should also be observed.
“Pwede po kapag nag-improve ang ating threshold. I believe ang gagawin po namin, paigtingin po namin ang regional, provincial, at barangay quarantines para we can relax sa national and we can have a selective quarantine (We can do that if our threshold improves. I believe we can intensify the quarantine in the regional, provincial, and barangay levels so that we can relax in the national and instead have selective quarantine),” he said in an interview over ANC.
Earlier, National Economic Development Authority Secretary Ernesto Pernia and Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) President George Barcelon suggested a “modified” and “relaxed” community quarantine to ease the impact of the lockdown in the country’s economy.
Galvez maintained, however, that public health and safety must prevail amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Tinitignan natin priority ang public safety and health safety (Our priority is still public health and safety),” Galvez said.
He reiterated that it would be difficult to relax some measures only to implement it again afterwards if a resurgence of new cases occurs.
“Mahirap magrelax dahil may relapse o second wave or third wave of attack. Itong virus hangga’t wala pang vaccine, paulit-ulit nag-re-recur (It’s difficult to relax because there might be a relapse, a second or third wave of attack. Unless there is already vaccine, this virus will continue to recur),” Galvez noted.
He said the parameters can be met if there will be mass testing, and if potential and suspected virus-carriers are isolated from the community.
As of Sunday, there were 220 new cases, bringing the total confirmed cases to 4,648, according to the Department of Health.
There were 50 new deaths with the latest toll standing at 297. At least 40 more recoveries were recorded, with the total number pegged at 197.