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Philippines now ready for consequences of lifting ECQ by May 15 -Salceda

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House committee on ways and means chair Joey Salceda believes the country is now ready for the possible consequences of lifting the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in many areas nationwide by May 15.

In a statement on Thursday, Salceda, an economist, said he had studied many times the evolving numbers, emerging scenarios and the national strategies against the spread of COVID-19, and had discussions with scientists, chaos theorists, and fellow economists on the possible situation when the ECQ is lifted.

"At this time, I am prepared, with a lot of trembling inside, thunder and lightning outside, to say that we are more ready for the consequences of a reopening even as we await a vaccine possibly in 2021 than the impacts of another hard lockdown as we know it," he said.

"Human behavior in our institutions and in the public has begun to be more prepared for the ups and downs of an epidemic," he added.

But while he is confident that the country is now prepared to finally lift the ECQ, Salceda is hoping that the government will be brave enough to face possible episodic spikes in COVID-19 cases and not fall for a costly unplanned lockdown.

Localized lockdowns may be made, he added, but they should be "LGU-managed not barangay-directed."

At the same time, the public should continue "low-cost non-pharmaceutical interventions" to stop the spread of COVID-19, such as frequent handwashing, wearing face masks, avoiding large crowds, and maintaining social distancing even at home, Salceda said.

He added the National Task Force against COVID-19 should continue increasing the country's testing, tracing, and treatment capacity. If possible, they should achieve a rate of 8,000 tests per day by May 15, and 30,000 tests per day by May 30.

"We were discussing just last time among the think group that the approach should be akin to supply chain management. No part of the day's activities should disproportionately expose anyone to the possibility of infection," Salceda said.

It was Salceda who first proposed to place the entire Metro Manila under week-long lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19 long before the government decided to impose an enhanced community quarantine in the region and the rest of Luzon.

He had also suggested extensions of the ECQ twice, first after the original April 13 deadline, and the second after the extended deadline on April 30.

As of Wednesday, a total of 10,004 cases of COVID-19 reported in the Philippines, with 658 deaths and 1,506 recoveries. —AOL, GMA News

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