A recommendation on what action will be taken after the extended enhanced community quarantine in the entire Luzon lapses on April 30 may be submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte on April 25, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said Sunday.
In an interview on ANC, Año said the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emergency Infectious Diseases is expected to meet again on Monday where the latest on the"COVID-19 epidemiology" will be presented.
“We are going to take into consideration whatever recommendation and conclusions that they will be able to present tomorrow… along with several factors, like our health system capacity at the present, looking into the economic factors, and also social factors,” said Año.
“So, we’re thinking of coming up with a recommendation to the president probably, maybe, on the 25th. And then, of course, it’s going to be the president who shall decide whether the ECQ will be lifted, or modified, or partially lifted, or even extended,” he said, adding expanding the ECQ to cover areas outside Luzon is also an option.
Año ruled out, however, a “total lockdown for the entire country,” saying what government intends to do is to implement the existing measure “on a very strict mode.”
He also clarified that government will not implement martial law, although a “martial law-style” implementation of the quarantine measures may be done in severely-affected areas where there are rampant violations.
“We want the people to be aware on the graveness of this problem,” he said. “We are increasing actually policemen and soldiers to implement the remaining days of the lockdown.”
Año said severely-affected areas, where there are ongoing local transmissions of the disease, like Cebu City’s Sitio Zapatera, are continuously being looked into.
He warned that with the stricter implementation of the lockdown, authorities are expected to apprehend more violators of quarantine measures, especially those “engaging in other activities like drinking and gambling.”
Año lamented the apparent lack of concern by some people, “as if they just don’t care.”
He said local government units are being encouraged to pass ordinances to punish violators after the lockdown period.
“For the rest of the rest of the year, I think we are going to confront and face this COVID problem until a vaccine is invented,” he said, noting that the new normal will require people to always wear masks, observe physical distancing, and avoid mass gatherings.
The government placed the entire Luzon, home to more than half of the country's population, on lockdown from March 17 to curb the spread of the new coronavirus disease. As a result, economic activities have also been limited.
On Saturday, the country's tally of COVID-19 cases breached the 6,000-mark.