DOH: Embrace a ‘new normal’ even after ECQ is lifted
MANILA, Philippines — The public should be ready to embrace a “new normal” where physical distancing, cough etiquette and maintaining good hygiene by frequent hand washing is still to be practiced even after the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) is lifted by May 1.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Wednesday said that while the government has yet to decide whether to extend or lift the ECQ in Luzon on April 30, the coronavirus that causes the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) will still be present in the country on May 1.
“We have to be ready for this new normal we’re talking about. Even if we come to April 30 and it [ECQ] will not be extended anymore or it will be extended, whatever the decision will be, we will have a new normal,” she said in an interview over ABS CBN News Channel.
“We all know that the virus will not be removed or the virus will still be here by May 1,” Vergeire added.
She urged the public to follow all the government rules and guidelines in the country’s fight against COVID-19.
President Rodrigo Duterte is set to decide on the fate of the ECQ on Thursday, April 23, whether it will be extended, lifted, or be modified.
However, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, who was present during the President’s meeting with health experts Monday night, said a modified quarantine will likely be enforced.
Among those being considered is whether quarantine measures in areas with fewer or no cases of COVID-19 could be relaxed and whether quarantine measures could be stricter over Metro Manila should the ECQ be extended.
According to the DOH, there are about 30 provinces in the country that have either few or no cases of the coronavirus disease or the spread of it is slow.
The Luzon-wide ECQ was imposed last March 16 and it was supposed to be lifted by April 14. However, it was extended until April 30 as medical experts are yet to determine whether it was able to flatten the curve of COVID-19 cases.
While it is too early to tell whether the curve was flattened over a month that the ECQ has been enforced, Vergeire said the “doubling time” of the disease has slowed down, according to medical experts
Before, it takes an average of three days for the number of cases to double, but now it takes five days, she said.
The DOH, however, is aiming for a 30-day doubling time, so that the number of cases could be accommodated and treated by hospitals in the country.
So far, the Philippines has 6,599 confirmed COVID-19 cases, of which 654 have recovered while 437 have died.
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