'Science, economics' to determine possible modification of COVID-19 lockdown – Roque

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 4)— The COVID-19 task force is not dismissing the possibility of modifying lockdown measures implemented in Metro Manila and other high-risk areas, but will continue to monitor data and scientific developments before crafting a post-May 15 strategy, Malacañang said Monday.

In a virtual media briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the task force would still have to weigh both the health and economic implications of the proposed move to "localize" the quarantine in virus hotspots.

"As I've said, it all depends on science," he said. "And it also depends on economics."

"That is one possibility, na pwedeng maibaba ang ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) sa Metro Manila," Roque explained. "Anything is possible. At pwede rin na 'yung mga hotspots sa Metro Manila will remain under ECQ. It will depend doon sa datos na makakalap natin bago mag-decide ang IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) kung ano ang gagawin on or before May 15."

[Translation: That is one possibility, that we can lift the ECQ in Metro Manila. Anything is possible. It also possible for hotspots in Metro Manila to remain under ECQ. It will depend on the data that we collect before the IATF can decide on what to do on or before May 15.]

Roque acknowledged that the next best economic move would be to open up some areas that can help restart the economy and generate jobs for people. However, he reiterated that the decision would need to remain balanced for the benefit of the community's health and safety.

The ECQ in the capital region and other COVID high-risk areas and provinces has been extended for another two weeks, with the number of virus cases still climbing by the day. Regions classified as lower risk areas, meanwhile, saw a gradual easing of lockdown measures under the "general community quarantine" policy.

Some scientists, researchers, and business groups have suggested to implement localized lockdowns after May 15, arguing the move would be a win-win strategy to isolate the virus and restart the economy alike.

Experts have also proposed a gradual and "calibrated" transition for the quarantine, where some economic activity will be allowed alongside measures in controlling the disease's spread.

READ: Duterte adviser suggests localized lockdowns in Metro Manila after May 15

To date, the Philippines has logged 9,223 cases of the infectious disease, including 1,214 recoveries and 607 fatalities.