Duterte to decide on ECQ extension ‘in due time’

MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte will decide whether he will approve of a possible two-week extension of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) “in due time”, Malacañang said Sunday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo acknowledged the “emerging consensus” from medical experts, businessmen, government officials, and others that the extension is necessary since lifting it could be “premature.”

Citing these experts, he said the President recognizes that lifting the quarantine as scheduled on April 12 “might wipe out the gains we have so far achieved in containing the virus.”

“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 ensure the success of our war against this wily and faceless global enemy. He will make his decision in due time,” he said in a statement.

He also urged Filipinos to do their part in helping reduce the transmission of the highly-infectious disease.

“In the meantime, 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,” he said.

Panelo’s statement came after Peace Adviser and National Task Force (NTF) Covid-19 chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said the government is currently studying whether to extend the quarantine for another 15 to 20 days after its scheduled end on April 12.

Galvez, in an interview over DZBB, said it would be difficult to “rush into normalcy” only to revert to another lockdown if it turns out the infection rate continued to surge.

“(What) we’re seeing is that one of the big possibilities is we will have an extension of 15 days or maybe 20 days so that we can really sustain it. Because right now, it’s still rising, it hasn’t plateaued,” he said.

In an interview with CNN Philippines, Galvez noted that the government has not yet seen any significant flattening of the curve and that the next two weeks will be critical for their observation.

He said the task force will not rush into making a decision and consider all factors on the situation at hand.

Currently, the task force is gathering self-assessment from local government units (LGUs) to consider their side in making a decision.

The task force is also considering the economic impact of the quarantine extension, he added.

He said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) is expected to come out with its final recommendation to the President before April 14, the day mass-testing is expected to start.

Earlier, Galvez said the task force wanted to fast-track the accreditation of subnational laboratories to start the massive testing of persons under investigation (PUI) and persons under monitoring (PUM) for Covid-19.

There are currently four Covid-19 sub-testing areas in the country.

Luzon has been placed under ECQ from March 17 to April 12 to minimize the number of Covid-19 cases in the country.As of Sunday, health authorities reported 152 new cases of Covid-19 infection, bringing the country’s total to 3,246 and eight new deaths bringing the total to 152. (PNA)

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