The extension of the declaration of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan, and Rizal for one more week is being proposed by the Department of Health.
“Extension for another week was recommended but nothing is final and IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) works in a whole of government approach,” the DOH said Tuesday.
According to DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, the IATF will discuss the possible extension of ECQ for one week before April 4, which is the supposed end date of the stringent quarantine status.
“We start to assess before April 4,” Vergeire said.
The ECQ has been in effect in Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan, and Rizal since Monday. It was noted by Vergeire that they are not ruling out the possibility of extending the ECQ declaration because a week of strict lockdown is “really not enough” to see a significant decrease in COVID-19 cases and hospital admissions.
“One week is really not enough. Usually, the ideal for us would be about two weeks. We have to understand that even after one week of this strict lockdown, we really cannot see any change in the numbers, or any change in the healthcare utilization [rate] because that is just a short time,” she added.
“Our doors are not closed [to] this extension of ECQ if we see that the hospitals cannot still manage the number of cases,” she reiterated.
Vergeire said that aside from new mobility restrictions, the government is strengthening the Philippines’ capacity to test, quarantine, contact trace, and isolate patients.