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Heath experts propose 'modified' lockdown in Philippines

Tough restrictions in areas hard hit by virus likely to remain but could be eased in other places

Heath experts propose 'modified' lockdown in Philippines

A young girl wearing a mask sits outside her home in Manila. The Philippines has ordered half its population of about 110 million to stay at home but may revise quarantine rules in dealing with the coronavirus in the next few days. (Photo: Maria Tan/AFP)

Health experts are recommending Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte implement a “modified” lockdown on Luzon, the country’s largest island, and other areas of the country after the present one expires on April 30.

The recommendation came during a meeting between Duterte and health experts this week to discuss whether to lift, ease or extend a lockdown imposed to combat the coronavirus, according to presidential spokesman Harry Roque.

Present restrictions require people to stay at home and all public transport has been halted.

“There was a consensus [among health experts] that an ECQ [enhanced community quarantine] doesn’t have to be implemented over the entire island,” Roque said on April 21.

Roque said the lockdown may only be extended in areas where new cases are being recorded, such as Manila and other parts of the country outside Luzon such as Cebu City and Davao.

Cebu City is on an island of the same name at the center of the Philippine archipelago and is considered the oldest and first city in the Philippines. Davao is the hometown of President Rodrigo Duterte located on the island of Mindanao, south of Manila.

Lawmakers agreed with the health experts that the country needs to flatten the curve of the virus and to be sure no second wave of virus transmission can take place before easing all restrictions.

Senate president Vicente Sotto III said on April 22 that he agreed with extending the lockdown in areas worst hit by Covid-19.

“This is what I expected and hopefully there will be a modified lifting [of the quarantine], meaning those areas with a lot of Covid cases like the National Capital Region should remain under community quarantine. There is a need to extend but with modifications,” said the lawmaker in a radio interview.

Meanwhile, Sorsogon Diocese staged an online concert on April 22 for healthcare workers and the poor in Sorsogon province. The concert featured the bishop, priests and local artists.

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“The concert aimed to give joy to all, especially during this time of crisis,” said Bishop Jose Alan Dialogo of Sorsogon.

As of April 21, the Philippines had recorded 6,599 Covid-19 cases with 437 deaths, according to government figures.

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