As April 12, 2020, the end date of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) draws near, speculation has been rampant if it will be lifted or extended. For the World Health Organization (WHO), it advises caution against lifting the Luzon-wide quarantine prematurely.
“Obviously, this measure can’t continue forever,” WHO Western Pacific regional director Takeshi Kasai told reporters in a virtual press briefing today, April 1, 2020, as reported on Inquirer.
When to end the quarantine should also be a decision made with careful considerations. “We have to make careful considerations of the epidemiological situation and impact of the lockdown,” Kasai stressed.
The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Disease, let by the Department of Health (DOH), is still finalizing the parameters to evaluate if the Luzon-wide ECQ will be lifted, extended, or expanded.
COVID-19 cases in Philippines has death rate higher than the global average
The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues to spread in the Philippines. On Tuesday, March 31, the DOH reported the country’s single most significant daily increase of 538 new COVID-19 cases. As of this writing, the Philippines’ total number of cases is now at 2,084, with 88 deaths and 49 recoveries.
The country’s fatality rate is now 4.2 percent, above the global average of 4. The WHO said it’s “quite high,” but partly due to prioritizing the testing of severe cases, coupled with the global shortage of testing supplies.
“People with severe disease are more likely to die than those with mild disease, so the proportion goes up,” WHO technical adviser Matthew Griffith explained.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire maintained that the rise in the number of cases is because of the government’s increasing capacity to test and confirm COVID-19 cases. The FDA has approved more test kits and the DOH has added more laboratories that can test for the virus. More hospitals are also seeking approval to function as test centers.
The WHO acknowledged that fighting to eliminate COVID-19 is a long-term battle. Kasai said it is “unlikely that this virus will disappear next week or even next month. The DOH's objective remains the same: "To lower the number of cases until it reaches zero,” Vergeire said in a press briefing.
“We want every country to respond according to their local situations and prepare for a large-scale community outbreak. We want them to think of a strategy to bring back, in a balanced way, the societies back to normal as much as possible,” he added.