By Deighton Acuin


Malacañang said Monday that an extension of Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in Metro Manila and four adjacent provinces will be decided as an absolute last resort amid an upsurge in coronavirus infections.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a media briefing that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) will conduct a meeting on April 3, Saturday, to come up with a decision on either the strict quarantine measure will be extended in the NCR Plus areas or not.

The government earlier placed Metro Manila together with provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna, and Cavite under ECQ in a bid to decrease the surge of cases.

“Another week or two weeks of ECQ, ’yun po ay magiging absolute last resort,” Roque said.

“Inaasahan po natin na ang isang linggong ECQ at isang linggo ng NCR Plus bubble, kasama ang mask, hugas, iwas, at pagbabahay bahay ng paghahanap ng may sintomas at pinaigting na testing and isolation, umaasa po tayo na sana po, hindi na kinakailangan mag [extend ng] ECQ,” he added.

Meanwhile, National Task Force against COVID-19 and Vaccine Czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said the government is open to the recommendation regarding the extension of ECQ.

He added the government will continue to monitor developments inside the bubble.

“Same interventions should be applied in the Greater Manila Area,” he said.

“We are open to the recommendation of our experts to extend ECQ for 14 days considering that the incubation period of the virus is 14 days,” Galvez said at the same briefing.

The Department of Health (DOH) recently recommended a one-week ECQ extension amid the COVID-19 case surge.

The Philippines so far recorded 741,181 infected individuals, 603,310 recoveries, and 13,191 deaths.

“Extension for another week was recommended but nothing is final and IATF works in a whole of government approach. There will be an assessment of the progress before ECQ ends,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told GMA News in a text message.