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    LIVE UPDATES: Duterte decides on fate of Luzon lockdown

    MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte decides on the fate of Luzon-wide lockdown on Friday morning, April 24, whether it will be lifted, modified or extended.

    Duterte decides on Luzon-wide lockdown fate
    President Rodrido Roa Duterte held a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and several health experts, including former Department of Health (DOH) secretaries, to discuss and address the COVID-19 crisis | via PCOO

    "Panatilihin ang ECQ sa NCR, Region 3, Region 4A and all other areas na mataas ang banta ng COVID-19 hanggang May 15, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque reads recommendation of IATF.

    READ: Duterte extends ECQ in NCR, Regions 3 and 4A, other 'high-risk' areas until May 15

    7:30 a.m. update: PRRD's public address set at 8am today. Watch on livestream video here.

    9:45 p.m. update: Roque said President Duterte's address will be aired tomorrow at 8 a.m.

    7:00 p.m. update: Roque said Duterte to address the nation tonight on enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

    1:00 p.m. update: Roque said no decision yet on ECQ but can be expected within the day. Duterte will meet members of the Inter-Agency Task Force at 6 p.m.

    “Wala pa pong desisyon ang ating Presidente kung ipagpapatuloy, ili-lift, o ire-relax ang ating ECQ. Ganunpaman, inaasahan po natin ang kanyang desisyon [anumang] oras po ngayon."

    President Rodrigo Duterte talks with members of IATF-EID
    President Rodrigo Duterte talks with members of IATF-EID | Photo courtesy: Senator Bong Go

    The enhanced community quarantine, which was supposed to end on April 12, was extended until April 30 as the government said it needed more time to prepare for a "new normal."

    Roque said the scenario of total lockdown in the entire Luzon after April 30 is not expected but more of selective extension of current quarantine or having it “modified” or relaxed in some areas as voiced out by health authorities.

    Duterte had a meeting with medical experts on Monday to review options that the government could employ to respond to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

    “It’s not an easy decision to come up with and we still have time for the President to give his decision,” Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, also the spokesman of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on the COVID-19 pandemic said in a virtual press briefing.

    The gradual lifting of ECQ in some provinces or areas with zero cases has earned support from House members. They said government should allow economic activities in COVID-free areas to mitigate the impact of the lockdown on livelihood.

    The University of the Philippines (UP) COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team also proposed for the implementation of graduated activation of ECQ depending on the level of risk in certain areas.

    So far, Malacañang Palace said COVID-19 cases are high in Metro Manila, parts of Bulacan, and the Southern Tagalog Region (Calabarzon).

    Luzon is home to more than half of the country's 100 million population. Lockdown was first imposed on March 17 to combat the spread of the dreadful virus. It caused cancellation of classes, suspension of public transport, closure of malls and other businesses.

    As of Thursday, the country has recorded 6,981 cases of COVID-19, with the number of those surviving from the disease reaching 722, outnumbering the 462 reported deaths.

    — The Summit Express

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