Philippines goes full circle as ECQ back in Metro Manila, 4 other areas

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — (Updated 7:59 p.m.) The Philippines is up for a throwback to the early days of the pandemic, with the government set to place Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan and Rizal under enhanced community quarantine beginning Monday.

President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the recommendation of the government's pandemic task force to place these areas, called by the administration as "NCR Plus," under ECQ from March 29 to April 4, Malacañang announced.

Unlike in the first installment of ECQ, transportation will not be suspended this time around, but its capacity will be drastically reduced.

A longer curfew from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. will also be in place, while dining in at restaurants is strictly prohibited.

Mass gatherings of more than 10 people and religious gatherings are also not allowed.

It is unclear, however, if quarantine passes are still needed to go out, with presidential spokesperson Harry Roque suggesting that people can simply explain to authorities why they are outside of their homes.

Roque also gave scant details on whether there will be aid for those who will be adversely affected by the imposition of ECQ.

180-degree turn

This is a 180-degree turn on the part of the Duterte administration that has repeatedly insisted to keep the economy open despite the surge in COVID-19 cases that has strained the healthcare system.

Roque said they were prompted to abandon the previous government policy as data showed that the healthcare system in the region has reached critical level.

Declaring ECQ during Holy Week will make sense for both health and the economy. The lockdowns will give the healthcare system a respite, while having limited economic impact because of a long holiday from Holy Thursday to Easter Sunday.

The problem, however, happens if ECQ gets extended after next week when an economy limping to recovery would be back to business as usual under the new normal.

Also, lockdowns alone would not help stem the spread of the coronavirus, as it needs to be coupled with enhanced contact tracing and expanded testing — two things that the country's response to the pandemic is lacking.

Roque said the government will strive to ramp up its efforts to detect new cases by establishing centers in communities that would find, trace and isolate suspected COVID-19 cases.

"We will go from house to house to find people with symptoms," he added in Filipino.

vuukle comment


  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with