Philippine President extends coronavirus lockdown to April 30

  • 2 months   ago

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has authorized the extension of the lockdown in Luzon until April 30, 2020 in a bid to prevent the spike of coronavirus infections and further enhance the capacity of the country’s health facilities.

The President approved the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF) to extend the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to April 30, according to Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.

The enhanced community quarantine that compels Luzon residents to stay at home is supposed to end on April 12.

“The enhanced community quarantine is up to April 30 11:59 p.m.

This is the recommendation of the IATF, which the President accepted and announced Monday night. After his announcement, we verified it with him and the response is the enhanced community quarantine is hereby extended until April 30,” he said during a virtual press conference Tuesday.

“The President has decided to extend the ECQ until the 11:59 p.m. of April 30,” he said.

Nograles said all exemptions granted by the Office of the President or the IATF shall continue to be in effect for the duration of the extended quarantine. He said such extension of the ECQ should be without prejudice to the discretion of the President to relax the implementation of the ECQ in some local jurisdictions, or the granting of exemptions in favor of certain sectors, as public health considerations and food security may warrant.

In a public address Monday night, the President announced that the government is “inclined” to extend the Luzon-wide lockdown until April 30. With the prolonged quarantine measures.



‘Look for COVID-19 funds’

Duterte also asked the Department of Finance to look for additional funds after admitting the government’s resources for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) response would be insufficient.

President admitted the government’s P270-billion allocation would not be sufficient to bankroll the subsidy program for the “poorest of the poor” and other COVID-19 response initiatives amid the lingering coronavirus threat.

“The 100 billion pesos for one month or the 270 billion pesos for two months, ‘yan naka-program na as earlier estimated, is not enough,” Duterte said.

“I’m calling on the Secretary of Finance to generate. I don’t care if you have to steal or borrow, just produce the money because if this runs out, I don’t know,” he said in Filipino language.

As of April 6, the health authorities have reported 414 new cases of coronavirus that pushed the total number of cases to 3,660. At least 163 have died from the infection.

Nograles admitted that if the government would lift the quarantine prematurely, there would be an increase in coronavirus cases in the


He noted that the extension would help give the government a clearer picture of the “full impact” of the quarantine by mid-April. “We want to measure the full effect of the ECQ,” he said.

Testing capacity upgrade

During the Luzon quarantine extension, Nograles said the government aims to step up efforts to enhance health facilities and resources on testing, isolation, and

treatment of patients in the country.

With the upgrading of the country’s health facilities and testing capacity, he said they seek to increase the testing capacity to reach 8,000 to 10,000 tests per day.

He said the government aims hasten the release of the test results at least within 24 hours.

If more “strategic” testing centers are built around the country, he said. The testing capacity would further increase to 13,000 or even 20,000 tests a day by April 27.

“The IATF shall exhaust all means necessary to increase the COVID-19 testing capacity of the country, and for this reason hereby adopts and approves the Guidelines for COVID-19 Mass Testing as presented by the Department of Health,” he said.

He clarified that mass testing does not mean anyone can undergo test. Patients with severe and mild health conditions as well those asymptomatic with travel history and contact with a coronavirus case will be the top priority.

He said the government also intends to raise its capacity to isolate patients and conduct intensive contact tracing, and improve self-screening protocol of the public during the extended quarantine period.

“We want to see a significant decrease in cases of COVID-19,” he said in Filipino.

“If all of these can be done, the experts said we can push back the peak of COVID-19 in the Philippines as far as year 2021. Hopefully, by that time, the world can find a vaccine. That’s the game plan,” he added.

Source: Manila Bulletin