ECQ extension to flatten COVID-19 curve

April 08, 2020
Eduardo Año
DILG Secretary Eduardo Año

THE extension of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon would greatly help 'flatten the curve' of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases in the country, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año said Tuesday.

“We all want everything to go back to normal yet we cannot risk further transmissions or a relapse. This extension is part of the effort of the national government to flatten the curve of Covid-19 transmissions in the country kaya buo ang pagsuporta ng DILG sa hakbang na ito ng ating Pangulo (so the DILG fully supports this decision of the President),” Año said in a statement.

Without a quarantine extension, Año said the Philippines could mirror what happened to Italy where Covid-19 cases spiked after lifting the lockdown.

"Because we need to do this in order to really meet the first objective of slowing down the virus spread and, actually stop the spread. Mag-spike na kaagad tayo kasi (There would be a spike because) people will move, people will be comfortable and they will be, everybody will move," he added.

He added the capacity of Covid-19 patient care centers would be increased by the end of April.

The objective of the lockdown, he said, is to "flatten the curve" so that health care facilities could catch up with severe and critical cases.

As for the antibody rapid test kits, these could be used to test persons under monitoring (PUMs) and arriving Overseas Filipino Workers, among others.

Año said the President's decision to extend the ECQ is grounded on the advice of health experts from the Department of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO).

He added that models from both the government and the private sector show that an extension of two weeks would ‘flatten the curve’ and ensure that the coronavirus pandemic is "contained and manageable by our health care system".

With the extension of the quarantine period, Año assures that the national government and the DILG are working long hours to ensure that all mechanisms are in place and that protocols are being implemented and followed to prevent the further spread the coronavirus.

“The DILG will maintain an open communication line with the LGUs to ensure that we are all on the same page in fighting this virus. We will coordinate with the local government officials to guarantee adherence to IATF protocols,” he noted.

Año reminded LGUs to continue the strict implementation of existing measures such as the practice of physical distancing, wearing of face masks in public places like markets, banks and other facilities that remain open during the ECQ, and ensuring that people stay at home, among others, as these will be vital in the fight against coronavirus.

He also assured that the health conditions of police officers are also under monitoring amid the increasing number of cops who are positive for Covid-19 and are PUMs and PUIs.

“We have rotation program, alam naman nila and very inspired to be able to help, even the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines), hindi yan marunong magreklamo and saka yung PNP (Philippine National Police), okay ang morale (they do not have complaints and even the PNP, their morale is okay),” he said.

Meanwhile, Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, Joint Task Force Corona Virus Shield (JTF CV Shield) commander, said they are prepared for the extension of the ECQ in Luzon.

“Our Chief of the Philippine National Police, Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa, has anticipated and already prepared for the ECQ extension, this is the reason why he took the initiative of activating the PNP ASTF (Administrative Support Task Force) on Monday in order to ensure efficient delivery of administrative support to ongoing operations of your Joint Task Force CV Shield,” Eleazar said in a statement.

The new task force would ensure efficient delivery of administrative support to ongoing operations of the men in uniform manning the checkpoints and implementing the lockdown, Eleazar said. (PNA)