Task force to determine lockdown’s possible extension

Christina Mendez - The Philippine Star
Task force to determine lockdownâs possible extension
Nograles said there is a need to set the parameters to determine if the government’s measures were able to flatten the curve or stem the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019.
Boy Santos / File

MANILA, Philippines — Three weeks into the implementation of the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine, the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) led by the Department of Health (DOH) will be evaluating whether the lockdown would be lifted, extended or expanded to other areas, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said yesterday.

Nograles said there is a need to set the parameters to determine if the government’s measures were able to flatten the curve or stem the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Nograles, spokesman for the IATF for the management of emerging infectious diseases, reiterated the information circulating on social media that the enhanced community quarantine would be extended for 60 days is fake news.

“It is not true. Sa usapin na ito, science is in charge. I hope this would be clear to all of us,” he said.

Nograles said the IATF’s technical working group (TWG) was directed to convene to assess the situation and determine the timeframe of the enhanced community quarantine, which will end on April 14.

“The TWG’s recommendation will be subject to the approval, amendment or modification by the IATF,” he said. “Right now, it is still too early to predict… The DOH will be setting the parameters.”

The government will adjust checkpoint protocols, especially for agricultural products as farmers and suppliers are still having a hard time moving their commodities amid the enhanced community quarantine.

The Departments of Agriculture (DA) and the Interior and Local Government (DILG) are set to enhance checkpoint protocols to ensure the unhampered movement of food as well as agricultural and fishery products.

The action comes after local raisers reported distress in chicken supply brought by the difficulties agri-fishery cargoes experienced in passing through checkpoints set up by local government units (LGUs).

Agriculture Secretary William Dar said Interior Secretary Eduardo Año agreed to the arrangement that checkpoint protocols along municipal, city and barangay roads would be adjusted to ease the movement of agricultural products and commodities.

“Secretary Año understands the importance of bringing food supplies immediately to the consumers,” Dar said.

The DA has been appealing to local chief executives to let food, agri-fishery products, inputs and personnel with proper documentation to easily pass through quarantine exit and entry points.

Año ordered the removal of barangay checkpoints along national highways and provincial roads, which have been restricting the travel of cargo trucks delivering basic commodities in areas under enhanced community quarantine.

According to Año, only police officers manning quarantine control points are authorized to inspect the cargoes of delivery trucks.

“All LGU and barangay personnel are prohibited from inspecting cargo trucks,” he said.

There have been reports of essential goods such as vegetables not reaching their destinations after being refused entry at checkpoints in LGUs that are on total lockdown. – With Louise Maureen Simeon, Emmanuel Tupas, Janvic Mateo



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