AN inter-agency task force against the coronavirus has deputized Cabinet officials to oversee the pandemic situation in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

The task force issued the order “to further operationalize the national government-enabled, local government-led and people-centered response” against the virus, Presidential Spokesman Harry L. Roque said on Thursday.

The Cabinet officials will seek to strengthen National Government support for cities and municipalities nationwide in fighting the pandemic, he said.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte locked down the entire Luzon island in mid-March, suspending work, classes and public transportation to contain the pandemic.

He extended the strict quarantine for the island twice and thrice for Metro Manila. Mr. Duterte put back the capital region, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal and Bulacan provinces under a strict lockdown until Aug. 18 after a fresh surge in infections. — Gillian M. Cortez