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Philippines eyes 'selective quarantines' after lockdown

Govt may ease Covid-19 restrictions in some areas of Manila but extend them in others

Philippines eyes 'selective quarantines' after lockdown

People detained for defying quarantine rules amid the Covid-19 pandemic squat at a distance from one another as they are processed at a Manila police station. (Photo: Maria Tan/AFP)  

Enhanced community quarantines could be extended in some areas of Philippine capital Manila beyond April 30, according to a government agency tasked with dealing with the deadly Covid-19 pandemic.

The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) was clarifying remarks made by President Rodrigo Duterte about extending lockdowns.

Certain areas will remain “locked” if present community quarantines are unsuccessful, the agency said on April 15.

“Again, I am reminding our fellow Filipinos not to waste our efforts and our little achievements in the past weeks. Let us remain in our homes so that the ECQ [enhanced community quarantine] may be lifted in certain areas after April 30,” IATF chief Carlito Galvez Jr. said.

He said a study had been submitted to the president by experts from the national state university suggesting a “modified” community quarantine to flatten the curve of the virus.

The research from the University of the Philippines said the present quarantine’s effectiveness was reducing the virus’s transmission rate, leading to fewer deaths.

Galvez claimed that the country’s police force is now ready for stricter and selective implementation of quarantine rules should the president approve the recommendation.

This was confirmed by police chief Archie Gamboa, who said on April 15 that the police were expecting “a longer operation in law enforcement and public safety functions beyond April 30 for a possible selective quarantine in some areas.”

The police chief added that they had arrested almost 700 individuals for violating quarantine rules.

Meanwhile, a Catholic bishop has urged the government to immediately provide cash aid for workers and relief goods for the poor.

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Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos issued a statement asking for more efficient and quicker distribution of government aid to help laborers and employees who have no salary during the pandemic.

“We strongly urge that the Department of Labor and Employment immediately give financial assistance to all affected workers whether from small, medium and large enterprises,” said the prelate.

Bishop Alminaza is a co-chair of Church People-Workers Solidarity, a church labor group that aims to protect the dignity of human labor and uphold labor rights.

As of April 15, the Philippines had recorded 5,453 Covid-19 cases with 349 deaths, according to government figures.

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