MANILA – Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto on Wednesday said lifting the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the city is “a little bit premature” as the number of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases continues to rise.
“We see here in Pasig, it might be a little bit premature to lift the ECQ. Parang sayang (It’s a waste) if we lifted now and there is still a high number of cases and an increasing number of cases every day,” Sotto said in a virtual press briefing hosted by the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP).
However, he said the local government’s decision to extend or lift the community quarantine would still depend on the national government’s Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, since “they are the ones who can see the crisis situation from a larger perspective.”
Sotto said an extended quarantine should be balanced with economic measures, either at the national or local level.
“The economy is taking (the) hit, both nationally and locally, so we need to do a balancing act (even) while we continue this quarantine. We should already start planning for an economic stimulus package,” he added.
Sotto said the Pasig government is already planning its local economic stimulus package until after the quarantine ends “to make sure that the crisis’ impact is as minimal as possible.”
Flatten the curve
Meanwhile, he said even local leaders need to address how to flatten the curve amid the health crisis.
“I think at this point, we have to be honest that leaders, like myself, should need to be honest, and say that we really don’t know when to totally flatten this curve,” Sotto said.
He said if the initial results or stages of the mass testing have already been completed, then the government could make an informed decision on “whether to lift, partially, completely, or not at all” the community quarantine.
Sotto said the city targets to complete its Covid-19 testing backlogs either by April 22 or April 23.
He said the city is currently conducting a combination of both polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and rapid tests among residents and can accommodate about 350 Covid-19 tests per day.
“The 350 tests per day is a good number, a satisfactory number, where we could be getting a clear picture of the suspected, probable, and confirmed cases,” Sotto said.
“In a hypothetical situation where we could test every single person, that will be great.”
The Pasig local government, he said, has partnered with The Medical City in conducting Covid-19 testing.
He said after testing suspected Covid-19 cases, they would also test health workers and their close contacts, which have already been identified.
Sotto noted that they expect to test people at high risk, those who are immuno-compromised and other front-liners in the city “by early this week or next week.”
“What exact number, what exact percentage of the population should we test, I don’t know — but the prioritization of our testing is very clear. If contact tracing was a web, we will start in the middle and then branch out as far as possible,” he said.
So far, the city has 266 confirmed Covid-19 cases. (PNA)