IATF thumbs down Zamboanga City’s request for ECQ extension
ZAMBOANGA CITY, ZAMBOANGA DEL SUR – The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) denies the request of the city government officials here to extend the implementation of Enhanced Community Quarantine until the end of May.
Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco Salazar, said on Wednesday that Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana informed her of the IATF’s decision to place the city under General Community Quarantine after May 15, but she, as mayor, would have the option to put on lockdown any area in the city where the disease may be detected.
“We requested the IATF to extend the implementation of ECQ until the end of the month but if it will not be granted, we are ready to transition to GCQ,” Salazar said earlier.
The IATF’s decision generated mixed reactions among residents in the city.
“It is under GCQ where we can have enough room to balance the safety of our people on the one hand and the economy of the city and the livelihood of every family on the other,” said Lawyer Melchor Sadain, a former councilor, who opts for GCQ.
Sadain said that under GCQ, people would still be required to observe basic health protocols that had been imposed during ECQ. “And the economy of the city will start to recover, and the local government will no longer be bothered much about providing nom-earning families with relief goods,” Sadain said.
But Rowena Amistosa, a stranded OFW, felt there was a need to extend the ECQ in the city, given the spike of confirmed COVID-19 cases here.
“I understand that many Zamboanguenos are getting hungry and businesses are down, but if we cannot contain the rise of (COVID-19) cases, we may end up like Singapore, which experienced the second wave of infection; and Singapore has better measures and excellent medical facilities than we have,” said Amistosa, a caregiver who is set to leave the country next month after having been stranded here for months because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Salazar reminded the people not to be complacent. “It’s not yet time to let our guards down, ” she said. “Curfew and the use of quarantine pass will be enforced and there will still be restrictions in movements and travel of the people.”
Dr. Dulce Miravite, city health officer, said that given the current situation, she expected the 108 COVID-19 cases in the city to rise.
But she said they hoped to get a better picture of the extent of the COVID-19 infection in the city with the operation of Genexpert, a testing laboratory at the Zamboanga City Medical Center and the soon to be opened testing facility of the Department of Agriculture.
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