Stricter ECQ in NCR Plus area may be extended

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Malacañang on Tuesday said the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) imposed in the National Capital Region and four nearby provinces (NCR Plus) will be extended beyond April 4 to curb the spike in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases.

In a Palace press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the decision will depend on whether new infections have slowed down.

“I would say it’s a 50-50. We’re hoping that the one-week bubble and one-week ECQ would lead to lower numbers,” he said partly in Filipino.

Roque said members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) will be meeting on Black Saturday to finalize the quarantine classification.

The IATF is assessing it thoroughly and on Black Saturday we will have another meeting where we will finalize what will happen. But another week or two weeks of ECQ would be an absolute last resort,” he added partly in Filipino.

He expressed hope that a week-long ECQ accompanied by the strict adherence to minimum health and safety standards would result in a drop in new infections.

“We are hoping that after a week-long ECQ accompanied by mask, wash, physical distancing, and accompanied by strict CODE or house-to-house visits to look for symptomatic patients and enhanced testing and isolation we are hoping that there would not be a need for an ECQ extension,” he said in Filipino.

Roque reiterated that extending the ECQ would only be done “as a last resort” to prevent a collapse of the country’s healthcare system.

Critical care capacity is the most important. We reverted to ECQ to prepare our healthcare system to treat serious cases,” he said in Filipino.

The ability of hospitals to attend to severe and critical Covid-19 cases, he said, will be among the primary considerations for changing the quarantine status implemented in NCR Plus.

President Rodrigo Duterte, he said, also directed concerned agencies to ensure that emergency subsidy, whether in cash or in-kind would be provided to the residents to be affected by the ECQ.

The President said that if there would be an ECQ, make sure there is assistance distributed for our countrymen,” he said in Filipino.

On Monday night, Duterte retained the ECQ status over Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal until April 4.

From April 1 to 30, Santiago City in Isabela will also be placed under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).

Similarly, Quirino Province will be under MECQ from April 1 to April 15.

The entire Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR); Cagayan, Isabela, and Nueva Vizcaya in Region 2; and Batangas will be placed under general community quarantine (GCQ) until April 30.

Tacloban City; and Iligan City, Davao City, and Lanao del Sur will also be under GCQ for the whole month of April.

All other areas will be placed under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), the most relaxed quarantine classification, for the month of April.

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