Metro Manila lockdown extended a week

Eerily quiet: The Manila City Hall is seen beside an almost empty road as the government implements a strict lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in Manila, Philippines. — AP

President Rodrigo Duterte ordered Metro Manila and four nearby provinces to remain under the strictest lockdown for at least another week to contain the surge in Covid-19 cases.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the president approved a recommendation by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to extend the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the National Capital Region (NCR) and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal.

If the situation in these areas improves after a week, the quarantine regulation could be downgraded to modified enhanced community quarantine, Roque said.

“But we will first look at the results of the extended ECQ, ” he said.

The independent OCTA Research group also recommended a one-week extension of the ECQ and even another if the surge would continue.

“The previous week’s ECQ is not enough, ” said OCTA research fellow Ranjit Rye at an online press briefing on Saturday.

“We are definitely not out of the woods, and we need an additional week, ” he said.

Guido David, another research fellow, said that if the reproduction rate of the coronavirus “does not drop dramatically in the next seven days, ” the administration should consider a third week of ECQ.

The coronavirus has spread to many health workers, including 117 of 180 from the Philippine Orthopedic Center (POC) who had been tested, forcing the hospital to temporarily close its outpatient department and put elective surgeries on hold.

The Department of Health (DOH) has commissioned several hotels in Metro Manila to provide isolation rooms for at least 40 of the POC health workers positive for the coronavirus.

Roque said that during the extended ECQ local governments were supposed to intensify their prevention, detection, isolation, tracing, and reintegration strategies.

These include visiting homes to look for people with Covid-19 symptoms and then testing and isolating those found positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, he said.

This will require “daily monitoring” by the local governments and the concerned officials of the National Task Force Against Covid-19, Roque added. — Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN

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