MANILA – The fate of month-long enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon lies in the hands of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases’ (IATF-EID) technical working group, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said on Tuesday.
Nograles said the IATF-EID’s technical working group, led by the Department of Health (DOH), would make a decision on the possible lifting or extension of Luzon-wide quarantine.
“The IATF technical working group to be led by the DOH is directed to convene and finalize the parameters for deciding on the eventual total or partial lifting of the ECQ in Luzon, the possible extension of its duration,” he said in a virtual presser aired on government-owned PTV-4.
Nograles’ statement came as the month-long enhanced community quarantine is set to expire on April 12.
He also made the remarks amid the sudden surge in confirmed cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in the country.
Nograles raised the possibility that the technical working group might recommend the possible expansion of enhanced community quarantine to other areas outside Luzon, “subject to the approval, amendment or modification by the IATF.”
“Sila po ang magse-set ng parameters in order for us to determine kung naging maganda ba yung mga hakbang na ginagawa natin (The technical working group will set the parameters in order for us to determine whether the measures we have undertaken against Covid-19 are effective),” Nograles said.
Prior to Nograles’ latest statement, rumors about the possible extension of Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine have circulated on social media.
Nograles maintained that the claim about the quarantine extension was not true.
“Uulitin po namin: hindi po totoo ang kumakalat na fake news na ie-extend ang ECQ ng 60 days (We reiterate that the alleged extension of enhanced community quarantine for another 60 days is fake news). Sa usapin na ito (With regard to this issue), science is in charge. Sana po malinaw ito sa ating lahat (It should be clear to all),” he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte on March 17 placed the entire island of Luzon under an enhanced community quarantine in an effort to arrest the spread of Covid-19 in the country.
The enhanced community quarantine mandates all Filipinos residing in Luzon to observe strict home quarantine and limit movements to accessing basic necessities.
Nograles said it is “too early” to tell whether the strict quarantine protocols have flattened the Covid-19 curve.
“Ang flattening the curve, ngayon, masyado pang maaga (It’s too early to say that we’ve been flattening the curve),” he said.
Nograles, nevertheless, said the public should be more understanding and cooperative to beat Covid-19.
“There are many ways we can help one another as we work to overcome this crisis together––but it all begins with staying home and taking all the necessary precautions to avoid spreading the virus,” he said.
The Philippines has so far recorded 1,546 confirmed Covid-19 cases. (PNA)