By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senators on Saturday said the government should keep the general community quarantine (GCQ) status in Metro Manila and other areas in the country, saying that easing the quarantine policy further might worsen the country’s COVID-19 situation.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said President Duterte will have a hard time deciding on the new quarantine policies in the country when the current lockdown protocols lapse on June 30 as he will have to balance the economic and health implications.
“Our economy is already in a very difficult situation, and many of our countrymen are going hungry because they cannot go to work and cannot resume the operations of their businesses. But at the same time, the threat of coronavirus disease infection is scary. So this is a very difficult decision for the President to make,” Zubiri said in an interview over radio DWIZ.
As of 4 p.m. of June 26, there are a total of 34,073 COVID-19 cases in the country, with the Department of Health (DOH) reporting 1,006 new infections Friday. Last June 23, the DOH reported 1,150 new COVID-19 cases, the highest increase recorded in a day since January.
With this rates, Zubiri said easing the current GCQ to modified GCQ (MGCQ) will be “very dangerous” as it might pave the way for the transmission of the disease.
“There should be some sort of protocol, hindi po tayo pwedeng magbukas nang buo (we cannot fully open our economy). I would feel kung ganito pa rin yong numbers – 1,000 a day – I think we should maintain the GCQ,” said the Senate official, noting the inadequate number of hospitals and health facilities in the country.
“We have to be very, very careful in opening up our economy in the next few weeks,” he pointed out.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, for his part, said that a GCQ status is a good “middle ground” to strike a balance between economic downturn and the increase in COVID-19 cases.
“A GCQ set-up is a good middle ground because our people can work and earn, and at the same time we can manage the increase of positive [cases]. So in short, I would recommend by July a GCQ set-up for another 15 days,” Gatchalian said in an online interview with reporters on Friday.
“But I honestly feel that we need to also make sure that our constituents or our people have work and livelihood,” he noted.
Duterte had earlier extended the GCQ in Metro Manila, effective June 16. Aside from the National Capital Region, several other provinces in the Cagayan Valley region, Central Luzon, and Region 4-A, as well as in Visayas and Mindanao, were also placed under GCQ until June 30.
The rest of the country, meanwhile, has been placed under MGCQ, except for Cebue City which reverted to enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). Talisay City was placed under modified ECQ.
On Friday, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Duterte will announce the new quarantine rules for the various areas of the country on Monday, June 29.