DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez. (File photo)

MANILA – Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez on Saturday reiterated the mindset of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to revive the economy while fighting the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Amid the call of medical groups to place Metro Manila under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), Lopez said the government cannot afford to revert the National Capital Region (NCR) to stricter community quarantine.

“(W)e cannot go back to ECQ. (It’s) damaging to people’s health, with unemployment and poverty affecting health and wellness and nutrition intake. (It) will affect long-term health and capacity to learn for children,” he told trade reporters in a text message.

Lopez, however, said what is needed is to fully support and address the concerns of health workers.

With the increasing number of infections in the NCR, allotted capacity for Covid-19 cases for some metro hospitals has reached the maximum level.

Some hospitals in the NCR, such as the Ospital ng Maynila and Caloocan City Medical Center-South, are temporarily closed as the coronavirus has hit their workers.

“How can we help our front-liners? They need more support in all aspects – health care workforce, relievers, beds, facilities, equipment, expanding testing capacities, tracing etc., as well as living quarters for front-liners, logistics, and other needs. We should find ways,” he added.

Lopez noted that the government is currently balancing health and economy and protecting lives and livelihood.

Before President Rodrigo Duterte announced new community quarantine statuses in the country, businesses have expressed concern about putting Metro Manila back to ECQ.

Business groups, as well as Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion instead back a granular lockdown.

“There are now other ways, like granular lockdowns (building, street, barangay), massive tracing, testing, isolation, treatment, and stricter compliance (with) health protocol in transportation and business establishments,” Lopez said.

He said they have been very careful in reopening sectors, focusing on those with the highest impact on livelihood and micro SMEs (small and medium enterprises).

“Also, we made it clear to have very strict compliance (with) health protocols, otherwise we close the stores until they correct their deficiencies,” Lopez added. (PNA)