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Too early to discuss possible ECQ extension in NCR —Duque

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Friday said it is still "too early" to discuss whether or not the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the National Capital Region (NCR) will be extended.

Interviewed on Unang Balita, Duque stressed the need for the public to observe minimum health standards after daily new COVID-19 cases reach over 12,000 for two consecutive days.

"Sa ngayon maaga pa para pag-usapan 'yan [It's too early to tackle that for now]," Duque said when asked on the possible ECQ extension in the NCR.

Duque chairs the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases or IATF, the government's policy-making body in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.

For his part, National Task Force Against COVID-19 deputy chief implementer Vince Dizon said the impact of the ECQ could be determined only after two weeks.

“It’s still too early,” Dizon said in Filipino when asked about the matter during the Laging Handa briefing on Friday.

Dizon also cited the previous pronouncement of the Department of Health that cases could still go up following the lockdown.

“COVID-19 is very unpredictable but what is important is that we act swiftly and coordinate with all sectors of our society,” he said.

NCR has been under ECQ since August 6. The strictest quarantine protocol, the ECQ will last until August 20.

Under ECQ only essential trips and services are allowed.

The government placed NCR under ECQ in light of the threat posed by the Delta coronavirus variant.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), meanwhile, wants NCR placed under a less stringent form of quarantine when the two-week ECQ expires on August 20.

The move, according to Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez on Thursday,  will better prepare the government to balance the economy and livelihoods to health risks arising from the surge in COVID-19 cases due to the threat of the more contagious Delta variant.


Duque, in the same interview, also called on local government units in the NCR to intensify their vaccination campaign in order to reach herd immunity at the soonest possible time.

"Nananawagan ako sa LGUs na talagang paigtingin ang ating vaccination campaign at para mas mabilis maabot ang herd immunity, mas lalong mabigyan ng proteksiyon mga mamamayan ng NCR," he said.

(I'm calling on LGUs to intensify our vaccination campaign so that we can reach herd immunity and give more protection to NCR residents.)

Citing available data, Duque said over 40% of NCR residents are already fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Nationwide figure, on the other hand, stands at 16%, he said.

On Thursday,  12,439 new infections were recorded, bringing the country's total COVID-19 tally to 1,700,363. It was the highest daily tally since April 24.

NCR has registered a reproduction number of 1.76, according to the August 12 report of the independent group OCTA Research.

Reproduction number refers to the number of people that each COVID-19 case can infect. —with Virgil Lopez/KBK, GMA News