Senators push for extension, modification of Luzon-wide quarantine

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 20) — Some senators are in favor of extending the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine in areas with more COVID-19 cases and easing it in areas where there are fewer cases.

Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III said unless massive testing is done soon, a quarantine extension is looming in densely populated areas with COVID-19 cases.

Senate Committee on Health chairman Christopher “Bong” Go also favors the extension of the quarantine in Metro Manila, stressing that there is still a need to know first if the country is able to slow down the spread of the virus.

Go, however, said he favors a modified quarantine scheme in some provinces.

Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto also said a modified quarantine must be enforced in areas with low or no transmission, which would allow people to work, earn and provide for their families, and will help restart the economy.

Like Recto, Senator Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian also favors a modified quarantine in areas with low or no COVID-19 transmission, but only if local government units in those areas have tested all of its probable and suspected COVID-19 cases, and have set up isolation areas for patients who contract the disease.

Gatchalian said that in a modified quarantine, more businesses like salons and car wash services may reopen.

He also said that he favors stronger military presence in communities to help instill obedience to stay-at-home orders.

For Senator Joel Villanueva, the government can reopen industries with major economic contributions like manufacturing and construction.

However, he said regular random testing of workers should be done on top of strict social distancing, sanitizing, and the use of face masks. He added that schools and malls should remain closed.

As for Senator Sonny Angara, the quarantine should be changed gradually and only after local governments down to the barangay-level are fully prepared.

President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to decide this week whether to extend the six-week long Luzon lockdown or shift to a “modified” quarantine.