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Duterte extends ECQ in Metro Manila, nearby provinces

Philippine President Rodrigo R. Duterte extended the stringent lockdown enforced in the country’s capital and nearby provinces until April 11, in an attempt to curb a renewed spike in coronavirus infections.

The Health department on Saturday reported 12,576 new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases, putting the healthcare system under a further strain.

The implementation of an enhanced community quarantine in the National Capital Region (NCR) and the provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna and Cavite will be extended by another week until April 11, presidential spokesman Herminio L. Roque, Jr. said in a statement.

The week-long hard lockdown, which the President declared last week to address an unprecedented spike in coronavirus infections in the greater Manila area, was to originally set to end on April 4.

The ECQ will be coupled with a strict enforcement of the so-called “prevent, detect, isolate, treat and reintegrate (PDITR) strategy,” Mr. Roque said.

“Health care utilization, case numbers and the PDITR gatekeeping indicators would serve as the parameters to be assessed for the succeeding weeks risk classification,” he said.

“The Department of the Interior and Local Government has been directed to ensure the concerned local government units shall provide these data while the Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Trade and Industry have been directed to provide the data in the workplaces and establishments.”

The Palace spokesperson said an additional 110 beds for moderate and severe coronavirus cases will be operational “soon” at the Quezon City Institute.

Health Undersecretary Leopoldo J. Vega earlier said all levels of beds dedicated for coronavirus patients and potential cases in Metro Manila have reached a moderate risk level.

He said intensive care unit beds for coronavirus patients in the cities of Quezon, Taguig, Makati and Navotas were already at a “highly critical level.”

The extension of the ECQ in NCR and nearby provinces is likely to hurt a Philippine economy that is still struggling to emerge from recession. Gross domestic product (GDP) slumped by a record 9.5% in 2020, as the government implemented one of the world’s longest and strictest lockdowns.

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