Roque: Total lockdown eyed if COVID-19 cases won’t dip

April 16, 2020

THE Philippines has yet to slow down the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) with only two weeks before the expiration of the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine, Malacañang said Thursday.

At a news conference, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque lamented the continued spike in cases, which has already reached 5,453 as of Wednesday.

Of this number, 349 have died while 353 others recovered.

“Nakikita po natin na tumaas, bumaba at pataas pa rin ang po ang COVID (cases). Nakakalungkot po na bagamat tayo po’y na-extend ng ECQ ay hindi pa rin natin nafa-flatten ang curve,” Roque said.

Roque then appealed to the public to follow home quarantine rules and physical distancing.

“Ang dami pong pasaway sa atin at dahil po diyan number one na naman tayo sa ASEAN [Association of Southeast Nations] sa dami ng COVID-19. Nakakahiya po ‘yan,” he said.

“Itigil n’yo na ‘yang pagiging pasaway, manatili kayo sa inyong mga tahanan. Dapat tayong mga Pilipino mahiya dahil nagpapakita tayo na walang disiplina.”

‘Total lockdown’

At the same briefing, Roque said a “total lockdown” may be considered by the government if the COVID-19 infection rate will not be reduced.

“Huwag na po natin pahabain itong ECQ. Tumupad na po tayo sa ating obligasyon at kaunting panahon na lang naman po ang natitira dito sa ating ECQ,” he said.

“Hindi po fake news na kinukunsidera ang total lockdown lalo na kung magpapatuloy ang mga pasaway sa ating kalsada. ‘Pag hindi natin mafa-flatten ang curve, hindi natin nabawasan ang kaso ng COVID siyempre isa ‘yan sa opsyon na ikukonsidera pero uulitin ko po wala pa pong desisyon na mag-total lockdown,” he added.

Last month, President Rodrigo Duterte imposed strict quarantine measures in Luzon to contain the spread of the virus, including sweeping restrictions on travel and mass gatherings and closure of schools and most businesses.

The Luzon-wide quarantine was supposed to end on April 13 but Duterte extended this until April 30.

Asked if the country will be able to flatten the COVID-19 curve by April 30, Roque said, “In an ideal world dapat ipagpatuloy ang ECQ pero ang realidad nga ay kinakailangan din magkaroon ng kabuhayan ang ating mga kababayan.”

“Humanahap tayo ng balanse between ‘yung obligasyon ng estado na protektahan ang kalusugan ng mga mamamayan [at] doon naman sa karapatan ng mga mamamayan na magkaroon ng hanapbuhay,” he said.

Duterte has already directed the economic team and some government officials to prepare a recovery plan ahead of the expiration of the quarantine.

In his third weekly report to Congress as mandated by the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, Duterte said a technical working group will be aiding the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases in formulating initiatives to rebuild consumer and business confidence in the country.

He said the TWG will submit its final report to the IATF on April 20.