MANILA – The proposed “total lockdown” to stop the further transmission of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in the country was not raised during the meeting of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said on Friday.

“What would a total lockdown look like and will it be limited to Luzon only if ever? We are not talking about that,” Nograles, spokesperson of IATF-EID, said in a virtual press briefing aired on state-run PTV-4.

Nograles issued the statement a day after Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the proposed implementation of a total lockdown is an “option,” in case the government fails to “flatten the curve” of Covid-19 cases in the country.

The Philippines has so far 5,660 confirmed Covid-19 cases, with 362 fatalities and 435 recoveries.

The proposed total lockdown is different from the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) that is currently being imposed on the whole island of Luzon and some areas in Visayas and Mindanao.

The suggested total lockdown prevents people from going out of their homes and mandates the closure of all public establishments.

The ECQ, on the other hand, limits public movements to accessing basic necessities.

Nograles said Roque was perhaps thinking of “stricter” measures to fight Covid-19.

“Kaya patuloy ang aming panawagan sa taumbayan na (That’s why we are asking the public to) make it easier for us to make a decision. Because the decisions are based on our assumptions of how the Filipino people will behave and cooperate,” he said.

Duterte has final say

The small group tasked by Duterte to assess the government’s response to Covid-19 is expected to come up with recommendations with regard to ECQ’s fate by Monday.

Nograles said the IATF-EID’s possible decision, which will be subject to President Rodrigo Duterte’s approval, would be based on the small group’s recommendations that will be presented on Monday.

“We will discuss what that possible scenario will be, what are the pros and cons, what we are ready to allow, what will be the new do’s and don’ts, what will be the new guidelines after April 30,” he said.

The final decision, however, would still come from Duterte, Nograles said.

“Ultimately, si Presidente ang magde-decide doon sa recommendations natin (Ultimately, the President will make a decision on our recommendations),” he said.

Nograles also reiterated his appeal for public cooperation, considering that Luzon-wide ECQ expires on April 30.

Nograles emphasized that the ECQ’s fate lies in the hands of all Filipinos.

He said it would be more difficult for IATF-EID to come up with a decision if there are people who continue to violate the quarantine protocols.

“It makes it easier for us to make the decision because everybody is cooperating,” Nograles said. “If they don’t follow the rules, if they don’t cooperate, it destroys all the assumptions. Then the model is also destroyed.” (PNA)

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