Philippines’ confirmed number of cases rose up to 3,246, bringing 168 new cases as of this writing with 64 patients who had recovered in total and 152 deaths. About 1,136,851 Covid-19 cases were confirmed worldwide and 62,955 became critical.

With these cases building up, this calls for enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), at least for two weeks more for both the interest of people and for all that is beneficial in the long run for this democratic country.

Extra burden for frontliners

From medical health workers to street cleaners who had been carrying most of the weight and risks to combat Covid-19 should at least be provided with relief from extra hurdles brought about by lifting of ECQ prematurely, implementing damage control as effective as possible by the government. Should the ECQ be lifted as scheduled, it will become much more drastic and will take the toll out of our frontliners.

Premature lifting of lockdown will more likely be counterproductive for normalcy and economic growth

Some government officials also stressed the need for extension of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) imposed in Luzon that is scheduled to be lifted on April 12. And that is for all the good reasons pointed out among them.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Salceda cited a recent study written by American economists Correa, Luck, and Verner (2020) suggesting that “NPIs (no-pharmaceutical interventions such as lockdowns) play a role in attenuating mortality, but without reducing economic activity” in American cities “with longer NPIs” and enabled them to “grow faster in the medium term” during the 1918 flu pandemic.

“The historical evidence says that, if you take your time and use the time wisely to build capacity, improve your system of care, and avoid making mistakes such as premature lockdowns, you reduce mortality rate and you enable a recovery,” related Salceda.

To further this point, taking the citizens into account, continuing things as they are as scheduled whilst Covid-19 is still on the loose would not make them feel any safer nor compelled to traverse outside despite the lifting of ECQ. While there may be a resume in the business industry and all other fine establishments, the operation will remain lagged as the Philippine economy slowly recovers.

 

Lives of people are still at stake 

“History and economics do not show that extension is a tradeoff between lives and economic growth. If anything, the more lives we lose and the more panic this virus creates if it gets worse, the less our chances are of any quick recovery,” said Salceda.

Officials the likes of House Minority Leader and Manila 6th district Rep. Bienvenido Abante Jr., and Albay 2nd district Rep. Joey Salceda are all calling for a two-week extension of the ECQ so as to ascertain that the situation of the Covid-19 spread is concluded without further risk of people’s lives.

“Containing this outbreak should be our number one priority, and data from all over the world shows that measures such as the ECQ are effective in reducing the transmission of the virus. So let us continue doing this until the data shows it is safe for us to lift the ECQ,” related Abante.

 

ECQ extension to be discussed

Meanwhile, the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases announced that such a proposal is still under further and deliberate discussion based on their five parameters: the capacity of the health care system and testing capability as well as social, economic, and security factors.

“We will discuss it on Monday so we can craft a recommendation to President Duterte, because ultimately, President Duterte will make the decision. The task force will make a recommendation based on scientific data, evidence, and the findings of our experts,” Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said in an interview over DZBB radio on Sunday.

As for the President, he said he will decide on the possible extension of ECQ “in due time”, as per Malacañang on Sunday.

“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,” said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo in a statement.

“(What) we’re seeing is that one of the big possibilities is we will have an extension of 15 days or maybe 20 days so that we can really sustain it. Because right now, it’s still rising, it hasn’t plateaued,” said Peace Adviser and National Task Force (NTF) Covid-19 chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr, pointing out it would be unwise to rush when it turns out the coronavirus infection rate continues to surge.

 

While the future remains uncertain with the escalating infected cases of the coronavirus, to lift or extend ECQ would affect the country, either way, considering the decision will heavily influence several aspects of the country that hangs in the balance.

In light of the pandemic, prioritizing people’s interest becomes a matter of life and death, as the saying goes in the realm of the business industry; the consumer is always right.