Difficult to go back to ECQ, DTI chief says amid medical community’s plea for stricter quarantine in Manila

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 2)— Imposing a stricter enhanced community quarantine measure in Mega Manila will prove to be difficult, the Trade Department says in response to pleas from the medical community for tighter COVID-19 restrictions in the area.

In a message to CNN Philippines on Sunday, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said he supports calls to address the concerns of healthworkers, but noted there are other ways to help alleviate the crisis situation.

“How can we help our frontliners? They need more support in all aspects,” Lopez said.

“But (it’s) difficult to go back to ECQ. (It’s) damaging to people’s health, with unemployment and poverty affecting health and wellness and nutrition intake. (It) will affect long-term health and capacity to learn for children,” he added.

Lopez said local government units have the capacity to impose granular lockdowns, and that strict health protocols have been set in place to avoid the spread of the virus.

The DTI chief also stressed the importance of balancing health and economy during this crisis, adding that citizens “need to manage and live with the virus which is here to stay.”

READ: Gyms, internet cafes allowed to partially reopen in GCQ areas by August

On Saturday, several medical societies appealed for President Rodrigo Duterte to place Mega Manila back to ECQ until August 15, citing an overwhelmed healthcare system and “burned out” frontliners. Mega Manila is composed of Metro Manila, Calabarzon, Central Luzon, and Mimaropa.

The move will also pave the way for healthcare workers to “refine” pandemic control strategies, the group added.

Some officials and experts, however, expressed concern over the proposal, saying it may cause possible repercussions on the country’s economy.

Metro Manila remains under the more relaxed general community quarantine until mid-August, but LGUs have the authority to declare strict localized lockdowns in areas that see a hefty increase in COVID-19 infections.