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Vergeire: We cannot maintain strict community quarantine measures vs. COVID-19

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Monday said strict community quarantine measures being implemented in light of the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be maintained.

Vergeire pointed out that having strict quarantine measures is not the only way to prevent the spread of COVID-19, noting that the continuation of such policies affect the economy of the country.

“There had been studies, even experts are saying that we cannot maintain these strict quarantine measures being implemented in the country, as they say it is not the only intervention for this pandemic,” she said in an interview on CNN Philippines.

“Our economic managers are already saying if we continue to have these strict community quarantine measures, there would be a lot who are going to be hungry and other diseases will become evident,” she added.

Vergeire made the statement when asked about the possibility of having more relaxed quarantine measures in the country starting September.

According to her, following minimum health standards is still one of the most effective interventions that can prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Saturday also said the Philippines can no longer sustain stricter forms of lockdown as this can have adverse long-term effects on the economy.

“We can no longer afford to revert to a higher quarantine status of MECQ (modified enhanced community quarantine) or ECQ because that will irreversibly injure if not damage the economy beyond repair,” Duque said during the ceremonial launching of “Mask Para sa Masa” initiative in Quezon City.

During the second quarter, the Philippine economy plunged into recession, contracting by 16.5% —its worst performance on record since 1981. 

From August 19 to 31, Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Nueva Ecija, Batangas, Quezon, Iloilo City, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City, Talisay City in Cebu, and the municipalities of Minglanilla and Consolacion were placed under general community quarantine (GCQ.)

Metro Manila Council chairman and Parañaque City Mayor Edwin Olivarez on Monday said mayors are suggesting that GCQ should be maintained in the National Capital Region in September.

President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to announce on Monday the new quarantine status of Metro Manila and other provinces beginning September 1.

As of Sunday, the country has recorded 217,396 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the Department of Health said.

Of this number, 157,403 recovered while 3,520 died. —KG, GMA News