IATF: Tighter lockdowns will be 'last resort' in pandemic fight

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 05 2020 05:46 PM

Filipino devotees attend mass while maintaining social distancing outside the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Quiapo, Manila, Oct. 2, 2020. Eloisa Lopez, Reuters

MANILA -- An inter-agency task force leading the Philippine government's response against the coronavirus pandemic has said it will use the upgrading of lockdowns as a "last resort" in efforts to contain the respiratory disease as authorities sought to revive the economy.

The IATF, in a resolution dated Oct. 2, said it approved a recommendation of an economic development cluster for the "further gradual reopening of the economy in increments proportional to the healthcare capacity of the country."

Current community quarantine classifications, which determine which businesses are allowed to operate, will see "stricter implementation and observance of the health and safety protocols," said the IATF in Resolution No. 76.

"For this purpose, escalation of community quarantine levels shall be reserved as a last resort to address the rising COVID-19 situation in their jurisdiction," read the document.

The IATF said it would also supplement the diet of children ages 6 months to 23 months and nutritionally-at-risk pregnant women with food packs and cash aid.

Metro Manila, which accounts for a third of the country's gross domestic product, will remain under general community quarantine (GCQ), the second of 4 lockdown levels, until Oct. 31, along with Bacolod City, Tacloban City, Iloilo City, Batangas and Iligan City.

Lanao del Sur will be under the second-strictest modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), while the rest of the country will be under the looser modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) this month, the IATF earlier said.

The health department has tallied 324,762 coronavirus infections, of which, 45,799 were active as of Monday.

The Philippine COVID-19 caseload is the world's 19th highest, according to the latest tally by the Johns Hopkins University.