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VisMin LGUs, DoH can decide to lift or extend ECQ

By: Rosalie Abatayo - CDN Digital | April 06,2020 - 04:47 PM

CEBU CITY, Philippines — The extension or lifting of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in areas in the Visayas and Mindanao depends on the assessment of the local government units and the field offices of the Department of Health (DOH).

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) said it is giving LGUs flexibility in assessing their ground situation and evaluating if it is now safe to go back to business as usual.

“We leave it to the DOH and the LGU to decide if based on their own assessment, based on their science, they can already lift their ECQs or lockdown in their respective areas,” DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya told the Cebu media in a virtual presser on Monday, April 6, 2020 

In Cebu, the provincial government and the independent cities of Cebu and Lapu-Lapu have already instituted the ECQs within their jurisdiction. The ECQ of the province, which commenced last March 30, is effective until withdrawn while that of Cebu City, which took effect last March 28, will last for a month or until April 28.

“Remember po, the epicenter naman of COVID-19 is Metro Manila and Luzon so we are giving flexibility to the local government units in consultation with the Department of Health to decide if they need to extend or lift their respective ECQ,” Malaya said.

Malaya also said the proposal of Cebu City Second District Rep. Rodrigo Abellanosa to have a staggered lifting of the ECQ is also possible.

Abellanosa, in a statement released on Monday, proposed to transform the ECQ into “localized lockdowns” that will involve barangays or clusters of sitios or puroks.

When there is partial or staggered lifting of the ECQs, Malaya said the reopening of some businesses that were ordered to temporarily cease operations due to the ECQ is also possible.

For the ECQ in Luzon, Malaya said it is up to the technical working group of the Interagency Task Force (IATF) on the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease led by the DOH to decide if the ECQ  in the region will be lifted, extended or expanded.

Amid the availability of more resting kits and testing centers, Malaya said the challenge in the fight against COVID-19 now is to prevent a “relapse” or resurge on the number of cases in the country.

“Yung parang ‘pag tinanggal natin kaagad ang ECQ, baka magkaroon ng second wave. ‘Yan ang pinag-aaralan ng mga experto kung paano natin mapipigil ang second wave na yan and  to determine, we need to see if we have flatten the curve,” Malaya explained.

“This is now going to be the decision of the experts on how they will assess [if] we can prevent a relapse if we immediately lift on April 14 [or] in order to prevent a relapse, how many more weeks will we have to extend,” Malaya said. /bmjo

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