Health experts, Metro Manila mayors weigh in on ECQ extension

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 15) – Health experts and city leaders have opposing views on proposals to extend the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) currently imposed on Metro Manila.

As early as now, some experts are calling for the extension of the two-week ECQ that is set to end on Aug. 20.

Former COVID-19 National Taskforce Adviser Dr. Antony Leachon said that a shift to easier quarantine restrictions could lead to another round of overwhelmed healthcare facilities.

"Magco-collapse ang healthcare natin considering na 70 percent na ang capacity [occupancy] and that will cause more problems," said Leachon.

[Translation: Our healthcare (system) will collapse. Considering that healthcare capacity occupancy is already at 70 percent. Reverting to relaxed restrictions will cause more problems.]

Infectious diseases expert Dr. Rontgene Solante adds that the current ECQ is quite different from the ones in the past.

The ECQ now in place, he says, is "more relaxed" than previous ones.

"Ang problema lang siguro ngayon [The problem now is], this is my own personal opinion, this is not the same lockdown as compared to previous lockdowns because there are still more people especially economic frontliners going out [these days]. In fact, there are PUVs still in the streets. At times parang hindi naglolockdown (it's like there are no lockdowns) and when people see these PUVs they will also go out," said Solante.

Local-level chief executives such as Navotas Mayor Toby Tiangco hopes that they will be given ample time to prepare for any ECQ extension.

"Mas mabuti na ipaalam kaagad ng national government kasi po ang importante ay ang ayuda para sa ating mga kababayan. Ang lokal na pamahalaan namin dito sa Navotas, sagad na sagad na kami," says Tiangco.

[Translation: The national government should immediately inform the local government on what their plans are. It is important that cash assistance is provided for our residents. We in the local government are now in a tight situation financially.]

According to Metro Manila Council Chair and Parañaque Mayor Edwin Olivarez, he and other leaders of NCR will be having a meeting with the Department of Health and independent health experts on future quarantine restrictions.

"Magkakaroon kami ng meeting ng Metro Manila Council nitong early this week. Mga Tuesday magmimeeting kami. At magkakaroon ng assessment ang ating Metro Manila Council," said Olivarez.

[Translation: The Metro Manila Council will be having a meeting early this week. And we will assess the situation in Metro Manila.]

He admitted that despite stricter restrictions, COVID-19 cases continue to spread fast.