MANILA - COVID-19 cases in the Philippines could exceed 30,000 daily without strict lockdown measures under an enhanced community quarantine, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said Monday.
Metro Manila, home to some 13 million individuals, will be placed under ECQ from August 6 to 20 to stem the spread of COVID-19 and avoid overwhelming the health care system.
"If we do not do the ECQ, we might see the cases going beyond 30,000 per day. So importante yung ECQ (ECQ is important) to keep it at the lower limit," Nograles, co-chairman of the inter-agency task force against COVID-19, told ANC's Headstart.
The lower limit the government is looking at is 18,000 per day, and Nograles said the "bigger majority" of this number would hopefully not need hospitalization.
He said the government also wants to delay having the Delta variant as the predominant type of coronavirus until vaccination among vulnerable sectors such as the senior citizens and individuals with comorbidities is also ramped up.
"While mag-e-ECQ tayo, kailangan din natin pataasin yung vaccination rollout to protect our population para kung in case magka-COVID, whether Delta variant o hindi, it won’t go to the severe or critical case of the infection," he said.
(While we're on ECQ, we also need to increase our vaccination rollout to protect our population so that in case they catch COVID, whether Delta variant or not, it won't become severe or critical case case of infection.)
Nograles said although Socioeconomic Planning Sec. Karlo Nograles presented to the IATF how much the economy loses per week under ECQ, the government chose to implement this to save lives.
"Unfortunate that it has to happen that way, but ang thinking kasi natin, ang buhay hindi mo na mababawi, ang ekonomiya mababawi mo pa," he said.
(It is unfortunate that it has to happen that way, but our thinking is lives cannot be retrieved, the economy can still be revived.)
Under ECQ, only authorized personnel are allowed to leave their homes. Most businesses are also shuttered, with only the essentials permitted to operate. Restaurants are also prohibited from taking dine-in customers, and they are limited to takeout and deliveries.
Nograles said the government would have to evaluate daily whether or not this strictest quarantine measure would have to be extended beyond 2 weeks.
"Right now, it’s just 2 weeks so far...Imo-monitor natin yung numbers, i-momonitor natin yung vaccination rollout. We’ll take it one day at a time but also be mindful about August 20," he said.
(Right now, it's just 2 weeks so far...We will monitor the numbers, we will monitor the vaccination rollout. We'll take it one day at a time but also mindful about August 20.)