President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered a further extension of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, and “all other high risks” areas until May 15, according to the recommendations of the COVID-19 inter-agency task force (IATF).
Originally, ECQ was scheduled to last until April 14, before the extension to April 30.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that the IATF also recommended for the enhanced community quarantine to stay in the following areas: ECQ stays in these areas: NCR, Benguet, Pangasinan, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Pampanga, Zambales, Batangas, Cavite, Oriental Mind
The task force has provided the president with the appropriate decision-making tools on whether to extend or relax strict stay-at-home rules. The IATF earlier recommended classifying Luzon into low, moderate, and high-risk areas for infections, following a consensus emerged in an earlier meeting with health experts that the stringent quarantine does not have to cover the entire region.
Moreover, the Health experts suggested that the quarantine should only continue in areas with a high concentration of COVID-19 cases, like Metro Manila, Calabarzon, parts of Bulacan province, along with Cebu City in the Visayas and Davao City in Mindanao.
Maintain Current Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) until May 15, 2020
National Capital Region (NCR), Region 3, Region 4A, and other parts of Luzon
- Benguet (May change by April 30, 2020)
- Pangasinan (May change by April 30, 2020)
- Nueva Ecija
- Tarlac (May change by April 30, 2020)
- Zambales (May change by April 30, 2020)
- Oriental Mindoro
- Occidental Mindoro
Subject for re-checking
- Cebu City
- Davao del Norte
- Davao City
- Davao de Oro
“Lahat pong probinsya na hindi napasama sa listahan na ito ay mapapasailalim sa General Community Quarantine,” Roque said.
All other areas, which are considered as moderate and low-risk, will be placed under General Community Quarantine for the same period. For areas placed under General Community Quarantine, the following will be observed:
- Workers and sectors in category I, II and III may continue to work or operate in phases;
- The general population may go out of their homes only for purposes of accessing basic necessities;
- In any case, those with ages below 21 years old and those 60 years old and above as well as those with ages ranging from 21 years olf but below 60 years old but who reside with co-morbidities or other risk factors shall stay home;
- Non-leisure stores in malls and shopping centers may partially open;
- Higher education institutions may continue classes to finish the academic year and issue credentials to students in accordance with guidelines as may be issued by the Commission on Higher Education;
- Priority and essential construction projects may resume in accordance with guidelines as may be issued by the DPWH;
- Public transportation may operate at a reduced capacity in accordance with guidelines as may be issued by the DOTr;
- Local government units shall enforce curfew at night for non-workers; and
- Airports and seaports may operate insofar as the unhampered movement of goods.
Last Thursday, the Health Department reported that the time it takes for COVID-19 cases to double has slowed down from three days in March to five days this week.
The doubling time is among the factors to consider in deciding the lifting of the ECQ, along with the number of new cases and the health care system’s capacity to address the crisis.
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Health experts, including the World Health Organization, have warned that prematurely lifting quarantine restrictions may lead to a second wave of infections, just like in Singapore which initially arrested the spread of COVID-19, but later faced a resurgence of the viral disease.
As of April 23, the Philippines has recorded 6,981 cases of COVID-19, including 722 recoveries and 462 fatalities.
—(Source: CNN Philippines)