'Science will be followed' on decision over Luzon lockdown: DOH official


Posted at Apr 03 2020 11:18 PM

MANILA - Philippine authorities will decide whether to extend or lift the ongoing enhanced community quarantine in Luzon based on scientific evidence, a health official said Friday.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an interview that the inter-agency task force (IATF) focused on the coronavirus response in the Philippines made it clear "science will be followed" on decisions regarding the Luzon lockdown.

"Nagbigay po yung mga kasamahan natin sa IATF na science will be followed. Bago po ang lahat, susundin ang siyensiya. Kung ano ang ididikta ng ebidensiya galing sa science, yun po ang ating gagamitin," Vergeire told radio DZMM.

Asked if the lifting of the lockdown will continue on April 12, the date initially set by the IATF, Vergeire said it's still unclear.

"Maaring i-lift po yan, or maaring i-extend. We don't know right now. It really depends on how things will go after nakapagbigay na ng ebidensya, nakapagusap-usap," she said.

Earlier, scientists and lawmakers alike called for the extension of the lockdown in the northern island as the number of cases of the virus in the Philippines continue to rise.

Dr. Darwin Bandoy, an assistant professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of the Philippines-Los Baños, said COVID-19 cases in the Philippines could go as high as 250,000 cases in a do-nothing situation.

Extending the enhanced community quarantine, he said, would lessen the number of infections. 

Two House members also called for the extension, saying cases may dramatically surge if the lockdown is lifted in Luzon, home to half of the country's population.

Home to more than 100 million people, the Philippines recorded 385 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing its total number of infections to 3,018.

The Department of Health also logged 29 new deaths, the country's highest daily toll yet, raising the total number of fatalities to 136.

Only 1 newly recovered patient was reported, bringing the Philippines's total to 52 recoveries since the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country.