MANILA--Lifting the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon could result in a significantly higher rise of coronavirus cases in the Philippines, a medical expert said Saturday.
Edsel Salvana, director of the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the University of the Philippines National Institutes of Health, said the enhanced quarantine is vital to flatten the curve of COVID-19 cases in the country.
" 'Pag tinanggal natin lahat yun, baka pwede na naman umakyat ('yung cases) ulit. So hindi muna bumalik sa dati," Salvana told radio DZMM.
"Pero baka naman kung maganda ang trending, dahan-dahanin at tingnan natin kung may magagawa tayo paluwagin ng konti 'yung ginagawa natin."
On Saturday, the Department of Health reported 76 new cases of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), bringing the total number of infections in the country to 3,094.
This was the fewest number of confirmed cases since March 26, when 71 cases were reported. Over the past 7 days, additional cases have been reported in the hundreds.
Salvana said this was "encouraging" to see, but clarified that it was still early to say whether local COVID-19 cases are near peak levels.
" 'Yung nakikita natin ngayon na parang nagfa-flatten is encouraging, pero maaga pa talaga," he said.
Salvana said decisions on whether lifting or extending the Luzon lockdown should be "data-driven" or based on science.
"Kung hindi, baka mawala pa 'yung advantage na ginawa natin," he said.
DOH undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire earlier said that the inter-agency task force (IATF) focused on the coronavirus response in the Philippines made it clear "science will be followed" in decisions regarding the Luzon lockdown.
Asked if the lifting of the lockdown will continue past April 12, the date initially set by the IATF, Vergeire said it's still unclear.
"Maaaring i-lift 'yan, or maaaring 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.
Scientists and lawmakers alike earlier called for the extension of the lockdown in Luzon, as the number of cases of the virus in the Philippines continues to rise.
Home to more than 100 million people, the Philippines is one of the countries that imposed strict preventive measures to curb the spread of the dreaded COVID-19.