Palace: No recommendation of another Luzon-wide lockdown extension in meetings

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 21 2020 02:31 PM | Updated as of Apr 21 2020 02:41 PM

A “lockdown” sign is placed at a street barricade in Sampaloc, Manila on April 19, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

Palace: 'Total lockdown' also excluded in options

MANILA- Another extension of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the entire Luzon was not among options discussed by President Rodrigo Duterte, government officials, and medical experts on the next step the country should take in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Malacañang said Tuesday.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said no such suggestion was made with regards to the continuing implementation of the lockdown in Luzon, which is scheduled to end on April 30.

"Wala pong nag-recommend na ang ECQ ay ipatupad sa buong Luzon," he said in a Palace virtual press briefing.

(No one recommended to implement the ECQ in the entire Luzon.)

Declaring a "total lockdown," which some officials have previously described as closing all establishments except for markets, was also excluded.

"Wala pong nagrekomenda ng total lockdown," Roque said.

(No one recommended a total lockdown.)

Duterte on Monday met with medical experts, including former secretaries of the Department of Health, to get their views on the government's next move in containing the spread of COVID-19.

Options that were discussed are relaxing the lockdown in some areas, lifting it in areas that have few COVID-19 cases, and retaining the lockdown in areas with a high number of cases.

Luzon, home to nearly half of the Philippines' 100 million population, was placed under enhanced community quarantine or lockdown on March 17 as the government moved to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The lockdown, which was supposed to end on April 12, was extended until April 30 as the government said it needed more time to prepare for a "new normal." 

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles on Tuesday said members of the country's pandemic task force failed to reach a consensus on the government's next step once the lockdown in Luzon expires on April 30.

"It was a very extensive discussion at lahat ng inputs na maaaring ibigay ng isa ay nabigay naman pero bitin, bitin pa din so we have to do another round of discussions," Nograles said.

(All the inputs that could be provided were discussed but we need more time so we have to do another round of discussions.)

But Roque said there was "almost a consensus" on the idea that another lockdown extension should not cover the entire Luzon, but rather should be based on the number of COVID-19 cases per area.

"I would say that there was almost a consensus na ang ECQ eh hindi naman dapat ipatupad sa buong Luzon," he said.

(I would say that there was almost a consensus that the ECQ should not cover the whole Luzon.)

So far, Malacañang said COVID-19 cases are high in Metro Manila, parts of Bulacan, and the Southern Tagalog Region (Calabarzon).

As of Monday, COVID-19 has so far infected 6,459 people in the Philippines, with 428 deaths and 613 recoveries.