MANILA – A lawmaker at the House of Representatives is seeking an extension of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon to contain the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

In his white paper on ECQ extension released to the media on Monday, House ways and means committee chair Joey Salceda cited quantitative and scientific evidence suggesting that the Philippines is not yet at “a point of justified confidence” when it comes to fighting Covid-19.

“We’re simply not there yet, no matter how much we wish this pandemic to end. It would be almost willful neglect to say that the country can now reopen,” Salceda said.

With only around 130,000 tests estimated to be conducted by April 30, He said many positive cases, especially asymptomatic, would remain undetected and at large.

“As of April 16, out of 5,660 confirmed cases, only 3,238 were assessed, out of 7,496 possible close contacts. Doubling time for infections hovers at just above 12 days. Thus, lifting the ECQ amounts to carelessly exposing the entire population to infection, no matter what residual social distancing.” Salceda said.

“When we allow a big swathe of social contacts exposed to an epidemic with doubling time of 12 days, we would simply overwhelm their nascent capacities, opening the margin for mistakes even if clerical with manifold adverse consequences,” he added.

Salceda proposed conditions for lifting the ECQ, including comprehensive measures to protect at-risk and vulnerable population; low-cost non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as personal hygiene, handwashing, facemasks, and social distancing; full protection for front-liners; and adequate testing with at least 0.22 percent of population tested similar to Taiwan.

“Greater care is required in planning and implementing a pathway or pathways towards recovery. This is why our efforts should strengthen over time, and modifications should not amount to an easing of our efforts in the aggregate, but rather a recalibration towards more efficiency and effectiveness, based on science and fact,” Salceda said.

Full lockdown until April 30

Meanwhile, Deputy Speaker Michael Romero said lockdown measures must be done at “full throttle” until April 30 under a “peacekeeping mode.”

“With the State of Emergency as legal basis, what we need to stop Covid-19 now is a full-scale red alert peacekeeping mobilization of the military and police until April 30 covering Metro Manila, Central Luzon, and Calabarzon. Not martial law,” Romero said.

Romero said the mission of the military and police would be to make citizens stay at home and to secure all hospitals, temporary quarantine facilities, supermarkets, and public markets.

“During the peacekeeping mission, mobilize and deploy the armed services to as many streets and intersections as possible, all the military and police, including all their civilian personnel and uniformed personnel assigned to offices, as well as the cadets in the academies and those in training at the military camps,” he said.

He also proposed mobilization of up to 50 percent of the reservists “if needed”.

“This is necessary because we have over one hundred thousand violators of the quarantine measures. Their numbers are rising,” he added.

He also suggested a curfew from 12:00 noon to 6:00 a.m.

“I appeal to the IATF (Inter-agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases) stop everyone from leaving their residences, except the health workers, police, military, LGU personnel, supermarket staff, and cargo forwarders,” he said.

“Shut down all the public markets and supermarkets to walk-ins. No more long lines. Wait at home for your groceries to be delivered. Enough of this nonsense of thousands of people roaming the streets and thousands of motorists on the road,” he added. (ia/SovereignPH.com/PNA)

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