Total lockdown an option if violations continue â Roque
While the number of people who recovered from COVID-19 has surpassed the number of deaths, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the number of infected persons continued to rise even if the Luzon-wide quarantine has been extended by two weeks.
Boy Santos/ File

Total lockdown an option if violations continue – Roque

Edu Punay, Romina Cabrera (The Philippine Star) - April 17, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The government is not ruling out the possibility of imposing a total lockdown if the number of people who contracted the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) continues to rise, Malacañang warned yesterday.

While the number of people who recovered from COVID-19 has surpassed the number of deaths, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the number of infected persons continued to rise even if the Luzon-wide quarantine has been extended by two weeks.

The enhanced community quarantine started on March 17 and was supposed to end on April 12, but President Duterte prolonged the lockdown until April 30 to give the government time to conduct more tests.

“We have seen that the number of COVID cases increased, decreased and the number is still on the rise. It’s saddening that while we extended the (quarantine), we have yet to flatten the curve,” Roque said.

He said the number of COVID-19 cases went down during the Holy Week, but rose again after the holiday, a trend that he said was not surprising, given that some areas in Metro Manila are crowded.

He cited the traffic congestion at the South Luzon Expressway and the crowding in areas where there are markets like Divisoria and Blumentritt.

While he denied claims that the government has decided to implement a total lockdown, Roque said the measure remains an option if the country fails to slow down the spread of the virus.

“Reports that there would be a total lockdown is fake news. But the government considering a total lockdown, especially if violators continue to remain on the streets, is not fake news,” he clarified.
“So let’s not prolong the enhanced community quarantine. Let us fulfill our obligations... There are only a few days left... If we do not flatten the curve, if we don’t reduce the cases of COVID-19, of course, it’s one of the options being considered,” he added.

There are 5,660 persons infected with COVID-19 as of yesterday, according to health department data. The number of recoveries rose to 435 while the number of deaths totaled 362.

At a recent press briefing, former presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said a total lockdown would result in the suspension of work and closure of all establishments, except retail outlets.

More tests

Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases spokesman Karlo Nograles said the higher number of recoveries may have been caused by the improved testing capabilities.

“If our capacity to test is expanded, more people will be tested positive... Once we learn who are tested positive, we would immediately determine the best medical intervention,” he said.

Citing a report by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, Nograles said the rate of people who tested positive for COVID-19 has decreased to 15 percent from 17 to 18 percent.

“It may be also a function of more testing...then perhaps the number of positive cases also went down. But again, it’s too early to tell,” he said.
Roque said Filipinos should be embarrassed that the Philippines has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia.
“Stop violating and stay at home.

Filipinos should be ashamed because we are showing them that we lack discipline,” he added.

A technical working group tasked to study measures to be implemented after the Luzon-wide quarantine is expected to present its proposal before the task force on Monday.

Nograles said the group would identify guidelines designed to prevent the resurgence of COVID-19 cases once the quarantine is eased or lifted.
He said five parameters would be considered in the government’s decision on whether to lift or extend the lockdown – the epidemiological curve or the acceleration or deceleration of COVID-19 cases; health aspects, including capacity to test, isolate and treat patients and facilities; social aspect; economic aspect and security aspect.

Partial lifting

The government is eyeing a partial lifting of the enhanced community quarantine in some areas in the country, including Luzon, after April 30, according to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

DILG spokesman Jonathan Malaya said the partial lifting or a modified community quarantine system is still dependent on the status of coronavirus infections in the country.

“I think some areas of Mindanao, the Visayas and maybe even Bicol region, and Regions 1 and 2 are already potential places where we can do the lifting. The assessment will be on a barangay and LGU basis,” he said in an interview with CNN Philippines.

He clarified that this is based on “favorable results coming from these regions,” but this would still be verified following a province by province assessment by the IATF.

A party-list lawmaker yesterday proposed a selective and conditional lifting of the Luzon-wide quarantine to help mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the economy.

AKO Bicol Rep. Elizaldy Co asked the IATF to consider lifting the quarantine in municipalities with zero new case and in island-provinces with zero or one case recorded in the last 15 days.

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