The office of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has revealed he is considering extending the nation’s enhanced community quarantine measures by at least two more weeks in order to ensure the spread of COVID-19 is under control.
Duterte announced a first wave of quarantine measures on 12 March governing the wider Manila area, including the suspension of all domestic air, sea and land transport, strict social distancing rules and a ban on mass gatherings for one month from 15 March to 12 April. Those measures were quickly extended to cover the Philippines’ entire main island of Luzon, with gaming regulator PAGCOR subsequently ordering the closure of all casinos within the quarantined area.
On Sunday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte would make a decision on whether to extend the enhanced community quarantine measures by at least two weeks “in due time” but noted advice from a range of experts that lifting the ban by mid-April may be premature.
Doing so, the state-run Philippine News Agency reported Panelo as saying, “might wipe out the gains we have so far achieved in containing the virus.
“The President is all ears and eyes on this unfolding reality and expert opinions. He is evaluating the best option to take that will effectively ensure the success of our war against this wily and faceless global enemy. He will make his decision in due time.
“In the meantime, we call on our countrymen to be steadfast in our commitment to take care of each other in this imminent threat to our nation’s survival.”
National Task Force Covid-19’s chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr had earlier stated that the government is currently studying whether to extend the quarantine for another 15 to 20 days from 12 April 2020.
Philippine health authorities have reported a total of 3,246 confirmed cases and 152 deaths as of Sunday.