With confirmed cases of COVID-19 positive patients on the rise, along with many Filipinos continuing to ignore the implemented quarantine and social distancing practices, the current enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) may be turned into a total lockdown.
This was a possibility raised by newly-reinstated Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque in a pres briefing earlier today.
“Huwag na po nating pahabain pa ang ECQ. Tumupad na po tayo sa ating obligasyon, at kaunting panahon na lang po ang natitira dito sa ating ECQ. Pero kapag hindi po natin napa-flatten ang curve hindi po natin nabawasan ang kaso ng COVID-19, isa po iyan sa option na kinokonsidera. (Let's not extend the ECQ any further. We have to fulfill our obligation, and we only have a short time left. But if we do not flatten the curve and we do not reduce the amount of COVID-19 cases, that is one of the options to consider.)” said Roque.
The warning comes just a day after the Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19 had granted the Philippine National Police-Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG) and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) enforcers the authority to ticket and confiscate licenses of drivers, riders and passengers caught in violation of the ECQ.
There have also been reports of large numbers of people in public places like Blumentrit Market and Divisoria, many of whom were not following social distancing measures.
“Pero uulitin ko po, wala pa pong desisyon na mag-total lockdown. (But I repeat, there's no decision to implement total lockdown yet)” said Roque.
Roque stressed that the government hasn't made a decision to implement total lockdown yet, in response to rumors and fake news that stemmed from alleged insider information.
The Philippines now tops the list of COVID-19 positive cases among Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member countries.
“Ang dami pong pasaway sa atin. At dahil po diyan, number 1 na naman po tayo sa ASEAN sa dami ng COVID-19. Nakakahiya po iyan, itigil niyo na ang pagiging pasaway. Manatili po kayo sa inyong tahanan. (There are so many stubborn people. And because of that, we are again number one in ASEAN for having the most number of COVID-19 cases. This is embarrassing, you should all stop being so stubborn. Please stay at home),” added Roque.
Roque said that the government is asking everyone to park their cars and stay home in order to reduce the number of infections in the country. He even emphasized that it was embarrassing to see traffic on SLEX even with the ECQ in place.
According to the original announcement, the ECQ will be lifted on 11:59 PM, April 30, 2020. However, there is still a possibility that it may be extended. Metro Manila was first placed under a Community Quarantine which was later upgraded to a Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine before it was set to expire.
For now, the decision will depend on the rate of increase of confirmed cases. If it continues to rise and more people continue to disregard the ECQ, Luzon may find itself placed under total lockdown.