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Duterte: Easing restrictions doesn't mean there's no COVID-19 threat

President Rodrigo Duterte has appealed to the people to wear face mask and observe social distancing rules even if some areas in the country are already under the less strict general community quarantine.

At a briefing with Cabinet officials aired on Tuesday, Duterte said the threat of the virus still exists.

"The easing up of the restrictions, hindi ‘yan sabihin na wala na ang COVID. Just because we allowed certain people, dahan-dahan lang para hindi tayo madapa.  We cannot afford a second or third wave na mangyari," he said.

"COVID is very lethal."

The Philippines has as of Monday recorded 11,086 COVID-19 cases, with 1,999 recoveries and 726 deaths, according to data from the Department of Health.

Duterte met on Monday night with members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, the government’s highest policymaking body on COVID-19 response, to discuss the body’s recommendation on the fate of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) currently in place in Metro Manila and some areas of the country.

The President said some places will remain under lockdown but he did not elaborate, saying the latest policy will be explained later by his spokesperson Harry Roque.

"It behooves upon the spokesman, Secretary Roque, to make it clear for you. Ang blackboard niya is PTV. He will be using that government facility to convey the message of what has been decided tonight," he said.

Roque will hold his regular press briefing at 12 noon Tuesday.

National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., in the same Monday meeting, proposed the gradual lifting of the ECQ.

Galvez cited the advice of the World Health Organization (WHO) about easing measures.

“According to WHO, any plans to ease quarantine restriction should be carried out gradually and  in a phase manner—parang ‘yung hinay-hinay lang po—to prevent resurgence of infections,” he added.

Galvez also said the government cannot extend the ECQ period because the resources are very limited. “It has to balance between health and economy,” he said. —KBK/KG, GMA News