President Rodrigo Duterte has extended the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon to April 30 to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said Tuesday.
Nograles said the President accepted the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to extend the Luzon-wide quarantine until 11:59 p.m. of April 30.
Duterte earlier announced he was inclined to extend the Luzon-wide quarantine to April 30.
“Provided, that all exemptions granted by the Office of the President or the IATF shall continue to be in effect for the duration of the extended ECQ,” said Nograles, citing the resolution passed by the IATF on Monday.
“Provided further that such extension of the ECQ shall be without prejudice to the discretion of the President to relax the implementation of the ECQ in some local jurisdictions, or the granting of exemptions in favor of certain sectors, as public health considerations and food security may warrant.”
Nograles said an extension is necessary in order for the government to determine the impact of the ECQ and further increase health capacity in Luzon and other areas, including ramping up COVID-19 testing to 8,000 to 10,000 tests per day with a turnaround time of 24 hours.
Asked if the ECQ will be expanded to Visayas and Mindanao, Nograles said, “We will continue to monitor Visayas and Mindanao. But they are not obliged or under ECQ.”
"Right now, wala pang need," he said.
Vice President Leni Robredo and several lawmakers have called for an extension of the enhanced community quarantine, which was originally scheduled to end on April 13, to slow the spread of the virus.
Some senators, however, said food supply and movement of essential goods and services must be ensured and that there should be mass testing for the disease to allow early detection and treatment of cases.
The Philippines has, so far, recorded 3,660 COVID-19 cases with 163 deaths and 73 recoveries.
Earlier in the day, the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) said it is expecting an economic slowdown as a result of the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine.
"Hindi pa po namin masyado ma-quantify, pero ini-expect namin talaga na magkakaroon ng slowdown ang economy during the first quarter," NEDA Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon said in an interview on Dobol B sa News TV.
Edillon, however, conceded that the worst is yet to come at this point, considering that restrictions during the COVID-19 quarantine period have hampered the flow of goods, among other issues.
"Two weeks lang ng enhanced community quarantine ang nahagip ng first quarter, kaya slowdown [ang expectation]. The second quarter is a different story," she said.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III earlier said the enhanced community quarantine has already affected 1.8 million workers.
The government has initially alloted P100 billion as social amelioration aid for 18 million low income families and has increased subsidy for beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program amid the COVID-19 pandemic.—AOL, GMA News