MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte will be considering expert advice in deciding whether to lift or extend the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to contain the spread of the 2019 coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
In a virtual presser on Monday, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said Duterte will deliberate on the recommendation made by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
The task force will decide on the possible lifting or extension based on trends in the Covid-19 epidemiological curve including the doubling time, acceleration, and deceleration of new cases, he said.
He said the IATF-EID will also decide based on the health care system’s capacity including the number and availability of quarantine, isolation, and treatment facilities; the capability to mount contact tracing; availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) to front-liners; and the testing capacity of the country.
Social, economic factors, and security factors will also be considered, he added.
“We would like to reiterate that an IATF Technical Working Group (TWG) led by the DOH (Department of Health) has been directed to apply the parameters for deciding on the eventual total or partial lifting of the ECQ in Luzon, the possible extension of its duration, or its expansion to other areas outside the contained area, subject to the approval, amendment or modification by the IATF,” he said.
He said the task force will be meeting Monday afternoon to discuss the possible lifting or extension of the quarantine.
Despite the task force’s recommendation, he said Duterte will have the final say.
“We will make the recommendations to the President. But ultimately, ultimately, si Pangulo po ang magdedesisyon (It will be the President to make the decision),” he said.
He also urged the public to support whatever the final decision of the President.
“Kung anuman ang magiging desisyon namin (Whatever will be our decision) whether it’s today or tomorrow or sa makalawa or sa susunod na mga araw ay magkaisa po tayo at suportahan po natin ano man ang maging desisyon na iyan (the following day or days, let’s unite and support whatever decision it is),” he said.
Earlier, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte will make his decision “in due time.”
He said Duterte 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.
Earlier, 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.
He said the next two weeks will be critical for observation since it has yet to be seen whether the quarantine has resulted in any significant flattening of the curve or decrease in the cases of infected persons.
The government is expected to start mass testing on April 14 to help the government efficiently identify, isolate, and treat those patients who have tested positive for the disease.
As of Sunday, there are a total of 3,246 confirmed Covid-19 cases with 152 deaths while 64 have recovered from the disease. (PNA)