HEALTH experts on Monday advised President Rodrigo R. Duterte to limit the lockdown to certain areas and industries, while expanding the government’s testing capacity to contain the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.
“The more we expand our testing capacity, the more we have confidence in modifying the quarantine,” Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei B. Nograles said at a briefing on Tuesday.
Mr. Nograles, who also speaks for an inter-agency task force against the virus, said the President needed more time before deciding on the lockdown that started on March 17. It was supposed to end on April 13 but he extended it by two more weeks until April 30.
“It’s not an easy decision,” Mr. Nograles said, adding that Mr. Duterte has until the end of the week to make up his mind.
The President needs more data before deciding on the so-called enhanced community quarantine, his spokesman Harry L. Roque said at a separate news briefing.
He said the experts had told Mr. Duterte to either relax or lift the Luzon-wide lockdown in areas where there are not too many COVID-19 cases.
The task force will keep in mind the guidelines of the World Health Organization, which had warned of a spike in cases worldwide if the lockdowns were lifted too soon.
Also yesterday, Party-list Rep. Virgilio S. Lacson said the lockdown should be relaxed in some areas to allow micro, small and medium enterprises and informal entrepreneurs to resume business.
The relaxed quarantine should be enforced by villages because they know the needs of their communities, the congressman said in a committee report.
Small business should be allowed to operate while the local governments monitor them for compliance with social distancing and disinfection measures to contain the pandemic, he said. — Gillian M. Cortez and Genshen L. Espedido