The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), which is part of the sub-TWG under the Interagency Task Force for COVID-19 response, said the metrics for lifting or extending the quarantine will be finalized next week.
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Partial lifting of ECQ mulled
Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) - April 3, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A partial lifting of the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) is being considered by the government technical working group (TWG) in charge of formulating the analytical model for deciding on changes to the lockdown after it expires on April 14.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), which is part of the sub-TWG under the Interagency Task Force (IATF) for COVID-19 response, said the metrics for lifting or extending the quarantine will be finalized next week.

Interviewed on the special episode of The Chiefs aired via Radyo 5 Wednesday evening, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary said while the metrics are still being finalized, the loosening of quarantine restrictions in areas with only one up to two confirmed COVID-19 cases is so far being considered.

“I think at least there will be some changes. So it’s not going to be this kind of lockdown that we are in. There will be some lifting of lockdowns in certain areas especially outside Metro Manila. There are are certain metrics we are trying to discuss and one of them is having two persons or less who are COVID-19 positive in a barangay, for example, will be considered safe for lifting the quarantine,” he said.

Another metric that is being discussed is the doubling time for the discovery of positive cases. In Metro Manila, the epicenter of the contagion in the country, the doubling time is between three to seven days whereas in areas outside, it takes as much as 30 days to double the number.

As such, Metro Manila may have to remain under quarantine but the rules will be less severe that what is currently implemented.

“The discussions are something like Metro Manila will continue to have quarantine but lighter than the way it is imposed now and there will probably be areas outside Metro Manila where the quarantine will be lifted,” said Pernia.

“Those are being discussed now, but there is no finality in those metrics yet. The metrics for lifting or extending the quarantine will be finalized next week.”

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles of the IATF said yesterday that the TWG chaired by the Department of Health (DOH) has been directed to finalize the analytical model to be used in deciding on the eventual total or partial lifting; or possible extension and expansion of the Luzon-wide ECQ.

Other agencies that are part of the TWG include state-run think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) and. Department of Science and Technology (DOST). It also includes technical experts, the academe, and other representatives from the health, economic, and security sectors as determined by the DOH.

Its recommendations will be subject to the approval, amendment or modification by the IATF.

Pernia said that even with the lifting of the quarantine in some areas, the movement of people may still have to be lifted.

“For example, in two adjacent towns, if the quarantine is lifted, perhaps they can cross over,” he said.

Pernia noted that a partial lifting of the ECQ is now being considered to prevent further damage to the economy as well as the occurrence of social unrest.

“If it (ECQ) is going to be extended en toto, that is going to be tough on the economy and society,” he said.

“There has to be a delicate balancing between health and economic objectives. You cannot just consider one and neglect the economic dimension because it can lead to a social crisis. People are restless, they are looking for work. They just get dole outs but it will not be enough if it goes on longer.”

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