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'Desperate' Duterte extends Luzon lockdown

Quarantine on largest Philippine island will now go on to at least April 30 as president looks to flatten Covid-19 curve

'Desperate' Duterte extends Luzon lockdown

Residents wearing masks walk past a roadblock after the government imposed an enhanced quarantine as a preventative measure against Covid-19 in Manila. President Rodrigo Duterte has extended the lockdown in Luzon to April 30. (Photo: AFP)

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has approved extending the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), or lockdown, in Luzon, the country’s most populated and largest island, until the end of April.

The lockdown had been scheduled to end on April 12.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles told reporters on April 7 that the president has accepted a recommendation by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to extend the lockdown as the government wraps up preparations for mass testing and relief distribution.

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The government hopes the extension will flatten the curve of Covid cases in the country.

“The enhanced community quarantine is now until April 30, 11.59pm. This is the recommendation of the IATF to the president and the president has already accepted this recommendation. We need to measure the full effect of the ECQ. We also need to increase the health capacity of Luzon and the entire country,” Nograles said.

The cabinet secretary also said other factors influenced the president’s decision to extend the lockdown such as the soaring rate of Covid cases, the capacity of the healthcare system and the economy.

Duterte appealed to private establishments and corporations on April 6 to aid government efforts in the fight against Covid-19.

“I still count on everyone to also look out for their fellow men — their countrymen. To those who have more in life, I implore you to take care of the unfortunate, the poor, in our country,” Duterte said on national television.

He also said he had become desperate in leading the Philippines’ fight against the pandemic. “This virus is a thing that is rampaging through our country and every country for that matter. Even the government of the Philippines is now desperate. I, too, am desperate,” Duterte added.

Meanwhile, Jesuit priests are offering an online recollection entitled “Paschal Triduum Recollection.” It will take place from Maundy Thursday to Holy Saturday from 9.30am to 10.30am local time.

The theme of the recollection is “Finding God in the lockdown.” Recollection point-givers are Father Bros Flores and Father Ismael Jose Chan-Gonzaga of the Society of Jesus.

As of April 6, the Philippines had recorded 3,660 Covid-19 cases with 163 deaths, according to government figures.

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