‘No alternative’ but lockdown if rising coronavirus cases continue, says Roque

Sofia Tomacruz
'Pag lumala talaga at mawalan tayo ng critical care capacity o di kaya yung case doubling rate ay bumalik sa dating napakabilis, wala po tayo alternatibo,' Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque

VIRUS THREAT. Commuters waiting for buses observe physical distancing as they queue along EDSA in Quezon City on July 3, 2020. Photo by Lisa Marie David/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said on Monday, July 6, that the government would have no choice but to lock down more areas again if coronavirus infections continued to increase.  

Roque made the statement following official figures that showed over 2,000 cases were newly reported on Sunday, July 5, making it the highest number of new infections recorded in a single day since the start of the outbreak. 

‘Pag lumala talaga at mawalan tayo ng critical care capacity o di kaya yung case doubling rate ay bumalik sa dating napakabilis, wala po tayo alternatibo,” Roque said when asked about the possibility the government would consider returning to an enhanced community quarantine. 

(If the situation worsens and we will run out of the critical care capacity or the case doubling rate will quicken again, we won’t have any alternative.) 

Why does this matter? The Department of Health earlier reported the rise in cases could be attributed to increased contact among the population as community quarantine restrictions were gradually eased throughout the country. 

The increase in cases comes just as the country is pressed to restart the economy after remaining on lockdown for over 3 months. 

The surge in newly reported cases has prompted the health department to reiterate minimum health standards like wearing a mask, practicing physical distancing, and frequent hand washing need to be followed despite the easing of quarantine protocols.  (READ: As coronavirus cases rise, DOH reiterates: Stay home, follow health protocols)

“We cannot overemphasize that fact that everyone needs to follow these minimum health standards…when we eased quarantine restrictions, this was our specific condition. We will ease this quarantine but minimum health standards should be implemented and should be followed and practiced by every individual,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a separate press conference on Monday. 

Vergeire have assurances the country’s health system still had the capacity to deal with cases and said the health department was closely monitoring areas of concerns as well as areas in Metro Manila and Cebu City found to have clusters of cases. 

Balancing act: Roque reiterated the appeal to the public to follow these health standards in order to stem the rise in cases, saying the country “cannot afford another lockdown.” 

Metro Manila had only started to reopen more businesses in June, after experiencing one of the longest lockdowns in the world. The government decided to start reopening the economy as the nation’s testing capacity struggled to expand and as contact tracing efforts remained short-staffed. 

Roque said the government also had no choice at the time but to start reopening the economy.  

Wala naman tayong alternatibo kundi magbukas ng ekonomiya. Napakita natin kung ano na ang impact ng COVID-19 kung hindi natin mabubuksan. Baka mamaya, buhay nga tayo pero mamamatay tayo dahil wala tayong hanapbuhay. Tinitignan natin yung balanse,” he said. 

(We had no alternative but to open the economy. We have seen the impact of COVID-19 if we do not reopen the economy. Maybe later on we will have survived but may die because we don’t have any livelihood. We’re looking for balance here.) – Rappler.com 

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers defense and foreign affairs. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz.