Roque assures: IATF will look into hard data before possible easing of quarantine

Distribution of P1,000 cash aid in Bulacan only 2.5-percent complete

Residents of Barangay Malis in Guiguinto town, Bulacan province endure the heat as they line up to receive the P1,000 cash emergency fund from the national government that was intended for areas within the NCR Plus Bubble that were previously placed on enhanced community quarantine. (Photos by Carmela Reyes-Estrope)

MANILA, Philippines — Amid suggestions to ease down the community quarantine regulations enforced in Metro Manila and in nearby provinces, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque has assured the public that the government will look into hard data first.

According to Roque on Sunday, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) will be using science to determine the readiness of the National Capital Region (NCR) to shift to a less strict quarantine environment.

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The NCR and the nearby provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal were placed in an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in late March due to rising COVID-19 cases.  It was downgraded to a modified ECQ, despite 7,000 to 9,000 recorded daily new cases.

“The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) decides on the basis of science and hard data.  The members of the IATF, in their next meeting, would look into the analytics of the healthcare system of the National Capital Region Plus and the country,” Roque said in a statement.

“Specifically, it will review the attack rate and the hospital care utilization rate while checking the economic health of the nation,” he added.

Roque said the IATF is using a “whole-of-government” approach in managing the pandemic.

“Our approach is whole-of-government and our overarching goal is to promote the total health of Filipinos, including people who have been marginalized due to loss of jobs and have experienced poverty as a result  because of the imposition of strict lockdowns,” he noted.

On Sunday, the country recorded 8,162 additional COVID-19 cases.  However, a steady rate of recoveries has brought down the active case count to just 77,075, from as high as 203,000 during the strict quarantine period.

Still, the country remains to have one of the worst outbreaks in the Southeast Asian region.  As of Sunday, the country is just less than 2,500 new cases away from hitting the one million mark for confirmed infections.

READ: DOH: 8,162 new COVID-19 cases but active infections steadily going down

But at the same time, the lockdown protocols have restricted businesses and livelihood, with some poor families left to rely on the government’s social aid and the now-controversial community pantry initiative.

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READ: P1K cash aid not enough for 2-week ECQ — Bayan Muna

READ: ‘Giving and taking in time of crisis:’ Community pantries sprout in NCR

Last Monday, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua admitted that the five-week ECQ and MECQ have led to income losses of P83.3 billion — necessitating the need to stop the surge and reopen the economy again.

/MUF

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TAGS: 2019 Novel Coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, COVID-19, COVID-19 pandemic, COVID-19 surge, IATF, Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, lockdown, MECQ, modified enhanced community quarantine, National Capital Region, nCoV update, NCR, Philippine news updates, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque
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