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Time to reopen economy?

Louella Desiderio - The Philippine Star
Time to reopen economy?
In an interview with Dobol B sa TV yesterday, Concepcion said the two-week enhanced community quarantine implemented in the NCR, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal should have worked in addressing the surge in new COVID-19 cases.
STAR / Boy Santos, file

IATF decides today on ECQ for NCR, 4 provinces

MANILA, Philippines — It may now be time to reopen the economy following the two-week imposition of the strictest quarantine classification in the National Capital Region (NCR) and nearby provinces, presidential adviser for entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion said yesterday.

In an interview with Dobol B sa TV yesterday, Concepcion said the two-week enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) implemented in the NCR, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal should have worked in addressing the surge in new COVID-19 cases.

“I believe we already finished the two weeks. Let’s go back and open (the economy),” he said.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases is set to meet today to determine whether to retain ECQ or lower the classification by Monday.

He said the number of cases may have gone down with the implementation of the ECQ, which he admitted has greatly affected the economy and the jobs of many individuals.

“We should reopen and see what happens,” he said.

After reopening, he said the number of cases should be closely watched to see if this would decline following the ECQ. “If it goes up even further, we can always lock down again,” he said.

The NCR, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal have been under ECQ since March 29, amid the increasing number of new COVID-19 cases.

Earlier this week, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the ECQ cannot be in place for a long time given its impact on the economy and livelihood.

He said the government is looking at gradual reopening of sectors, including other manufacturing enterprises as well as those considered to be low risk once the subject areas are placed under less stringent modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said earlier this week another extension of ECQ in Metro Manila and nearby provinces may not be possible as funds are no longer available for distribution among those severely affected by the restrictions.

Citing the model recommended by the Department of Health, he said MECQ may follow ECQ after this week, depending on the results of prevention, detection, isolation, treatment and reintegration efforts.

The IATF will decide today on the next quarantine status of the NCR Plus bubble against a backdrop of unprecedented number of COVID-19 cases, which reached 840,000 as of Friday, comprising 178,351 active cases, 946 more recoveries and 401 deaths.

Overall, the Philippines has recorded 647,683 recoveries and 14,560 deaths since the outbreak last year. The country logged 12,225 new cases yesterday.

This developed as Roque defended yesterday the meeting with some members of the Cabinet after some quarters raised questions regarding President Duterte’s absence at the virtual meeting.

DutertC has not been accessible to members of the Cabinet and the IATF while his absence in the public scene since March 29 has spawn speculations about his health. His trusted aide, Sen. Bong Go, released updated photos with the President.

Roque said the Zoom meeting last Thursday was not a Cabinet meeting. “As mentioned, it was a Zoom meeting attended by some department secretaries. It was presided over by the Executive Secretary to discuss COVID-19 and other related matters, such as contact tracing, the status of the hazard pay of health care workers,” Roque said.

He also revealed that the team discussed the prepositioning of items for distribution and the codification of procedure for future references in case similar situation occurs.

“It was an informal but productive meeting. We hope this clarifies the matter,” Roque said. – Christina Mendez

ECONOMY ECQ
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