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Palace: Extending MECQ will be a delicate balancing act

Palace: Extending MECQ will be a delicate balancing act

In a press briefing today, August 10, Malacañang said the government will have to weigh public health and economic considerations before deciding whether to extend MECQ being imposed in Metro Manila and nearby provinces to curb the spread of COVID-19.

MECQ in four areas

President Rodrigo Duterte placed Metro Manila, Laguna, Cavite, Rizal, and Bulacan under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) from August 4 to 18. He has decided to place these four areas since he granted the appeal from the medical community. Authorities are imposing MECQ in these high-risk areas for only two weeks.

Photo by King Rodriguez from Manila Times

Over the weekend, former National Task Force Against COVID-19 adviser Dr. Tony Leachon suggested that the MECQ be extended up to one month to boost the health care capacity and flatten the infection curve.

“On the suggestion to make the MECQ effective for one month, this is a decision that has to be made by the Inter-Agency Task Force [for the Management of] Emerging Infectious Diseases,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.

“It entails a delicate balancing of protecting and saving people’s health to protecting and saving the economic health of the nation.”

Economic consequences

Prior to this, Roque said that a prolonged lockdown could lead to grave economic consequences. The Philippine economy plunged into a recession after the gross domestic product shrank 16.5% in the second quarter as strict lockdowns shuttered businesses.

Photo by Ted ALJIBE from Manila Bulletin Online

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Monday expressed confidence that Metro Manila is ready to revert to general community quarantine after August 18, citing the decreasing number of new cases in recent days.

Lorenzana said the government should focus its resources on areas with community transmission so that “others can also go to work.”

According to Roque, the effects of the MECQ would be felt two to three weeks after its enforcement.

“The incubation period for COVID-19, according to health experts, is 14 days so we just have to wait for that time to ascertain the health impact of the MECQ classification,” he said

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