MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte will talk with health experts before deciding whether to extend or modify the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) imposed over the whole of Luzon to curb the transmission of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

In an interview over DZBB on Sunday, Senator Christopher “Bong ” Go said the coming days will be critical in Duterte’s decision.

“Ang Pangulo marahil magde-decide ngayong linggong ito kung i-extend pa po o luluwagan. So bukas po kakausapin nya ang mga health experts, marami po syang inimbita pati rin po mga dating secretaries of health ng iba’t ibang administration, baka makapagbigay ng payo sila (Perhaps the President will decide this week whether to extend or loosen (the ECQ). So, he will talk with the health experts, they invited even former health secretaries of previous administrations, they might have advices),” said Go, former top aide of Duterte.

He appealed to local government units (LGUs) and the public to strictly follow ECQ measures to help the government to flatten the curve or slow down the rate of infection.

“Nakikiusap kami ni Pangulo [sa mga tao] na just stay at home. ‘Wag lumabas para di magkahawahan dahil the more kayo na lumabas ay [the more na] magkakahawahan, pupunta kayo [sa lugar na] magkakadikit-dikit, wala pong katapusan ito (The President and I appeal to the public to just stay home. Don’t go out so we don’t infect each other because the more you go out, the higher the risk of getting infected. This would never end),” Go said.

By violating quarantine protocols, Go said it only makes work harder for health workers on the front line in the fight against Covid-19.

“Ang dami, ang hirap na trabaho, mas lalong nakakadagdag pa po ito sa trabaho ng health workers, sa tracing. So, mabuti po stay at home muna kayo (There’s so much work, it’s difficult work, going out adds to the work of our health workers in contact tracing. So, it would be best to stay home),” he said.

Go welcomed the news that Covid-19 recoveries are now higher than deaths, assuring the public that all those who need to undergo targeted mass testing will be prioritized.

“Sa ngayon po umaangat na po ang recoveries compared sa death pero ayaw natin na merong mamatay. ‘Yun ang importante sa ngayon, gumaling ang pasyente at bumaba, mag-flat na dapat, hindi na umangat (As of now there are more recoveries compared to deaths, but we don’t want to see any more deaths. That’s what’s important now, that patients get better, numbers decrease, that the curve flattens, and there would be no new cases),” he said.

As of April 18, health authorities reported a total of 6,087 confirmed cases of Covid-19, 397 deaths, and 516 recoveries.

Duterte complying with ECQ

In a televised public address late Thursday night, Duterte said he wanted to leave his official residence in Malacañan Palace in Manila but had no choice but to follow the ECQ guidelines set by the Davao City government.

Since his daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte barred him from returning to his hometown, Duterte lamented that he could not even attend the 16th birthday of his daughter, Veronica, fondly called Kitty.

“Hindi ako makauwi. Bakit? Hindi ako pinapayagan ng mayor doon na makapunta. Walang eroplano na may pasahero maka-landing sa Davao City. Ipinagbabawal ng mayor doon (I can’t return home. Why? Because the mayor there didn’t allow me to. There’s no plane that carries passengers that would be permitted to land in Davao City. The mayor there banned it),” he said.

He said he would comply with the rules set to protect the people of Davao City, as he shared the sentiment felt by Filipinos who had to stay stuck in their homes during the Luzon-wide ECQ.

Comparing the experience to being detained in New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa, Duterte said, “Ngayon alam ko na sabik na sabik na kayo. Para kayong taga-Bilibid lahat tayo pati ako (I know you are very eager to go out. You feel like you’re in Bilibid, all of us are, including me).”

He admitted that declaring a quarantine was “a cruel action by government” but said it was necessary to prevent more people from getting infected by the disease.

“This thing about quarantine is a cruel action by the government. Hindi madali ito. Pati ako nasasaktan. The problem is kung magdikit-dikit uli (It’s not easy. I also feel hurt. The problem is if there is crowding again),” he said.

Despite feeling impatient, he said he knew that everyone else felt the same.

“Wala hong may gusto. Ako mismo naiinip na. Nag — nagmumura na ako. Every time I wake up kakain ako breakfast, nagdadaldal na ako sa – – ito, ito ‘yung ano bang klaseng buhay ang inabot natin dito sa mundong ito ngayon (Nobody wanted this to happen. I’m getting impatient. I curse. Every time I wake up, I eat breakfast, I talk — I wonder what type of life we now have in this world),” he said.

The ECQ in Luzon to contain the spread of Covid-19 is set to end on April 30.

Cabinet Secretary and Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) spokesperson Karl Nograles said the Luzon-wide ECQ might either be partially lifted, totally lifted, or extended anew, depending on the task force’s recommendations that will be transmitted to Duterte.

The government has to consider five parameters, which include the “trends in the Covid-19 epidemiological curve, the capacity of the health care system, and the social, economic, and security factors,” in deciding on the fate of ECQ in Luzon. (PNA)

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