President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday appealed to the public to comply with the preventative measures imposed by the government to halt the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) as the country cannot afford a second or third wave of infections.
In a taped public address, Duterte said COVID-19 was “very lethal” and that it can spread widely at any time.
“For those who would be allowed to go out and work and for those na hindi pa talaga puwede, remember na itong ‘pag, the easing up of the restrictions, hindi iyan (ibig) sabihin na wala na ang COVID. Just because we allowed certain people, dahan-dahan lang sa ngayon para hindi tayo madapa,” the President said.
“Because we cannot afford a second or third wave na mangyari. Ito ‘yung mga bagong mahawa na naman at dadami na naman dahil nga sa mayroon tayong rules na hindi sinunod,” he added.
Duterte then urged the public to wear face masks and practice physical distancing as part of the “new normal.”
“Do not go out of your house without a mask. That is a must. Must-comply… Kung wala kang mask you endanger ‘yung kaharap mo. Hindi ikaw. Kung gusto mong mamatay okay lang pero ‘yung kaharap mo at hindi pa niya panahon tapos mamamatay lang just because you do not want to comply,” the President said.
“Then the social distancing. Ito ‘yung new life until such time na meron ng vaccine. Mayroong mga medisina but not vaccine. So ganoon ‘yon. Sundin lang ninyo ‘yan, importante masyado,” he added.
In mid-March, Duterte placed Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) or lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19.
It was supposed to end on April 13, but he approved a proposal to extend it until April 30 and then up to May 15 in Metro Manila and several “high-risk” areas, while “low risk” areas were placed under general community quarantine (GCQ) where some movement restrictions are relaxed.
According to Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr., Duterte has decided to keep Metro Manila, Laguna and Cebu City under “modified” ECQ until May 31 to effectively stop the spread of COVID-19.
Under a modified ECQ, Roque said the people’s movement in these areas, which the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for Emerging Infectious Diseases classified as “high risk” communities, would continue to be severely restricted under the extended lockdown.
He noted that local government units could allow the limited resumption of public transportation, certain industries to operate on a limited capacity, and persons to leave their homes only for essential goods and other basic necessities and in cases of emergency.
However, he said the government is still finalizing which industries will be allowed to resume operations.
Meanwhile, regions that will be placed under GCQ starting May 16 are Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Cordillera, Calabarzon except Laguna, Central Visayas except Cebu, Zamboanga, Davao, and Caraga.
Under GCQ protocol, businesses may resume partial operations, excluding those that are involved in leisure and entertainment, with limited transportation to support the government and private firms’ operations.
Regions that will no longer be under ECQ or GCQ but must still follow health guidelines are Ilocos, Mimaropa, Bicol, Western Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Northern Mindanao, Soccsksargen, and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
As of May 13, there are 11,618 confirmed COVID-19 cases nationwide with 772 deaths and 2,251 recoveries.