Palace: MECQ extension up to IATF

Malacañang said the extension of the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in the National Capital Region (NCR) and nearby areas would be up to the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases as it is a delicate decision to be made.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after House Committee on Health chairwoman Quezon Rep. Angelina Tan said the two-week "timeout" granted to the medical community is "not enough" to address the problems in the country's healthcare system.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr.(CAMILLE ANTE / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr.

In a statement, Roque said that the fate of the MECQ is in the hands of the IATF.

"On the suggestion to make the MECQ effective for one month, this is a decision that has to be made by the (IATF)," he said.

"It entails a delicate balancing of protecting and saving people's health to protecting and saving the economic health of the nation," he added.

According to Roque, the Palace will have to wait to assess the existing MECQ because its effects will not be felt immediately.

"We understand that the effects of the recent implementation of MECQ measures in the NCR and nearby areas would be felt two to three weeks after its enforcement," he said.

'The incubation period for COVID-19, according to health experts, is 14 days so we just have to wait for that time to ascertain the health impact of the MECQ classification," he added.

President Duterte approved the recommendation to place Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal under the MECQ until Aug. 18 following the request of the medical community for stricter quarantine measures.

Last week, Roque said that the Philippines cannot afford to extend the MECQ because the economy can no longer handle an even longer lockdown.

"Napakatindi po ng binaba ng ating ekonomiya (Our economy suffered a steep decline for the second quarter)," he said.

In an interview with ANC Monday, Defense Secretary and National Task Force against COVID-19 chairman Delfin Lorenzana said Metro Manila is ready to return to the general community quarantine (GCQ) after Aug.18.

"I think the trend is going down. Yesterday mga 3,000 na lang ‘yung bagong kaso, down from 6,000 previously (Yesterday we had around 3,000 new cases, lower than the previously 6,000 cases)," he said.

"I think we are ready to go down. We cannot continue with the MECQ kasi alam na natin kung nasaan ang mga areas na may infection. 'Yun ang tututukan natin (because we know now the areas where there are infections. We'll focus on that), so that the others can also go to work," he added.