Lockdown extension likely


  • Philippines
  • Tuesday, 07 Apr 2020

THE Luzon lockdown may be extended by two weeks.In a statement on Sunday, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo cited an “emerging consensus” among medical experts, businessmen, government officials and others that extending the lockdown by two weeks was “necessary”.

“Lifting it could be premature as it might wipe out the gains we have so far achieved in containing the virus,” Panelo said, adding that President Rodrigo Duterte was “all ears and eyes” on the situation.

“He is evaluating the best option to take that will effectively ensure the success of our war against this wily and faceless global enemy.

“He will make this decision in due time,” Panelo said.

Vice-president Leni Robredo said she supported a 15-to-20-day extension of the lockdown,

but urged the government to decentralise the distribution of cash aid so that families badly hit by the quarantine could receive financial relief fast.

“I think it is crucial that people understand why (the extension) has to be done.

“If they don’t understand why it is necessary, there will be resistance,” she said in a television interview.

“I think this resistance will be lessened if people understand why it needs to be done (and) if their basic needs are met.”

Robredo said the distribution of relief under the social amelioration programme should be done by local governments, and not by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, so that it would go faster.

“Anything that is too centralised will affect the speed,” she said. “I think local governments should do the distribution because they have the sense of what is happening on the ground.”

Opposition Rep Edcel Lagman of Albay province also backed the extension of the Luzon lockdown, but recommended that a steady supply of food and financial aid go with the extension.

Lagman said it would be counterproductive to begin mass testing for the novel coronavirus when the lockdown had already been lifted.

“It would be extremely difficult to implement initial selective and subsequent comprehensive mass testing in a dispersed and mobile population,” he said.

Cabinet Secretary and spokesperson for the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases Karlo Nograles said in a radio interview on Sunday that the group would meet throughout this week and submit a recommendation to Duterte as soon as possible.

In a radio interview on Sunday, Nograles said the available data was not enough for the body to make a decision last week.

“We wanted to see a clearer trend, so we deferred it to this week so that we have two days worth of data that we can input in the models created,” Nograles said. — Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN

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