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Philippines mulls Covid-19 lockdown extension

Experts believe an extra two to three weeks might 'flatten the coronavirus curve'

Philippines mulls Covid-19 lockdown extension

A resident using an improvised face shield made from a plastic water tank to protect him from the coronavirus walks in his neighborhood in Manila on April 5. (Photo: Ted Aljibe/AFP)

The Philippine government is now studying the possibility of extending enhanced community quarantines or lockdowns by another 15 to 20 days to “flatten the coronavirus curve” on Luzon, the country’s biggest island.

The National Task Force Covid-19 announced that although it is still too early to make an announcement, scientists and doctors were already looking at a lockdown extension beyond the April 12 expiry date to slow down the rate of transmission of the virus.

“It would be difficult to rush back to normal if we revert to another lockdown because the infection rate is still escalating,” said Carlito Galvez, chief implementer of the government’s policy on tackling the pandemic.

Galvez said there is a great possibility that there will be a 15-day extension in order to sustain the “low rate and to flatten the curve.”

Vice President Leni Robredo supports the proposed lockdown extension on Luzon. “I agree with the extension because, based on projections, it is better to extend the quarantines to flatten the curve,” she said on national television.

She said that people’s cooperation and understanding of the virus are crucial. “If they [the people] do not understand why they need to cooperate and promised government aid is not delivered to them, social unrest may really happen,” she added.

Meanwhile, the National Shrine of our Mother of Perpetual Help in Baclaran, Manila, has been giving shelter to 42 construction workers who failed to return to Albay province before the implementation of the enhanced community quarantines.

Charlie Paladin, one of the workers, said they tried to walk to their province because the transport system across Luzon was already shut down.

“We tried to walk because our families do not have the money that we have worked for here in Manila. Because of the heat, we decided to take shelter. Thanks to the priests of this church who gave us accommodation. But still our families do not have money to buy food during this lockdown,” Paladin said.

Albay province lies 440 kilometers south of Manila.

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As of April 6, the Philippines had recorded 3,414 Covid-19 cases with 152 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

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