Task force wants to submit post-April 30 strategy to Duterte by next week

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 16) — Because the stay-at-home order is set to expire on April 30, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases is looking to submit a post-enhanced community quarantine plan to President Rodrigo Duterte by next week, its spokesperson said Thursday.

Task force spokesman Karlo Nograles said in a televised briefing that the group of technical experts, tasked to come up with possible scenarios after the lockdown over Luzon is lifted, vowed it “would have something to present” to the policy makers on COVID-19 response by Monday.

“They are the ones currently gathering data and data analytics,” Nograles added.

Nograles reiterated the technical committee and the task force would base their decision on whether or not to ease the current restrictions on five factors: the trends in the COVID-19 epidemiological curve, capacity of the healthcare system, social, economic and security factors.

A group of experts from the University of the Philippines has proposed relaxing quarantine measures, noting that the virus seems to be spreading more slowly, due to the government's outbreak control strategies. The UP COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team - composed mostly of mathematicians - theorized prolonged lockdown over a large area “can unnecessarily paralyze local economies.”

The experts proposed that “provinces (or even lower-level LGUs) may be put under enhanced community quarantine, depending on how close or far they are to an estimated outbreak threshold” instead.

Luzon has been under quarantine for almost a month now.

The lockdown shuttered businesses, except those offering essential goods and services. It also emptied streets by prohibiting mass gatherings and ordering most, except for those rendering vital services, to stay at home. It is the most extreme measure taken yet to combat the viral disease, which still does not have either a cure or a vaccine.