Philippine presidential spokesman Harry Roque says it is possible that the country’s capital region might have to return to an earlier and stricter form of quarantine, if the number of Covid-19 cases in the nation continues to rise.
“A reversion to … a more stringent quarantine is possible, but I hope it will not happen,” Mr Roque said on Thursday in an interview with CNN Philippines. “We’ve come to a very crucial point. I think the economy can no longer afford to be shut down, but if there’s no alternative, we need to do it,” he added.
An extensive lockdown for Metro Manila (pictured) – a measure known locally as “enhanced community quarantine”, or ECQ – was first announced in mid-March, and subsequently extended in increments. It covered the large-scale casino resorts in Manila’s Entertainment City zone.
Quarantine measures in the Metro Manila area had been relaxed somewhat starting in mid-May, when a so-called general community quarantine was instituted. The timespan of that protocol had been extended on a number of occasions, most recently to July 31.
The number of Covid-19 infections in the Philippines has continued to rise, particularly in the Metro Manila region.
Information carried on the website of the Philippine Department of Health indicated that the aggregate number of Covid-19 cases in the nation reached 74,390 as of Thursday. A total of 2,200 new cases had been reported as of that day.
The website further stated that 48,136 cases remained active, and a total of 1,871 people had died.
Casino operations in the Metro Manila area, including at the large-scale private sector sites of City of Dreams Manila, Okada Manila, Resorts World Manila and Solaire Resort and Casino, have remained closed since mid-March.
Earlier this month, members of the country’s Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases suggested the tightening of quarantine rules in the capital region. At the time, President Rodrigo Duterte decided instead to extend the existing measures, after assurances that mayors of cities in the Metro Manila area would step up tracing and testing work on the disease, as well as treatment of people already confirmed as having Covid-19.
“We are continuing with localised lockdowns and we will accompany that with massive targeted testing,” Mr Roque said t in the CNN interview.
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Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes
Director of the Macao Government Tourism Office