Malacañang warned the public that the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) could be reinforced anew if physical distancing and crowd control measures are not observed amid the prevailing coronavirus disease (Covid-19) threat in the country.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said he understood why Filipinos were excited to troop to malls on Saturday, the first day of the relaxed quarantine protocols.
However, he explained that lack of discipline could result in an increase in Covid-19 infections currently at 12,513 as of Sunday (May 17).
“Kung lahat tayo ay lalabas ng ganyan kadami at hindi mag-o-observe ng social distancing, unang-una babalik po tayo sa ECQ. Kung ayaw niyo po bumalik, puwede ba ho bawasan na yung paglabas. Marami talaga hahawa ng Covid-19 (If all of us will go out and fail to observe social distancing, we will return to ECQ. If you don’t want to return to ECQ, avoid going outside. More will spread the coronavirus),” he said in a virtual presser on Monday.
Roque also pointed out that more Covid-19 cases in the country would translate to fewer hospital beds for patients.
As of May 16, he said the country has 13,457 total bed capacity for Covid-19 patients in Metro Manila.
“Pag dumami po yung nagksakit ng Covid-19, makikita niyo po limitado lang po ang mga kama sa ating mga ospital (If more people get infected with Covid-19, you’ll see we only have limited beds in hospitals),” he said.
If the country’s Covid-19 case doubling time shortens to two days, Roque said hospitals and health facilities would soon run out of available beds for new patients.
“Kapag po umikli yung Covid doubling time at bumalik sa two-day doubling time…ang two days po ng 12,000 is 24,000 so siguro po sa isang linggo o dalwang linggo mauubos na yung suma tutal na kama natin at sa kalye na po kayo ilalagay dahil mauubos na yung kama para sa may sakit (If the Covid doubling time shortens and returns to two days, two days of 12,000 is 24,000 so in one or two weeks we will run out of beds and we’ll have to place you outside),” he said.
Case doubling time pertains to the period of time wherein the number of cases in a place doubles, the Department of Health (DOH) said.
However, Roque said he did not find the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to allow the transition from ECQ to MECQ a mistake.
“Hindi naman po kasi talagang after two months gaya ng buong daigdig kinakailangan naman natin buksan ng bahagya ang ating ekonomiya (I don’t think it was a mistake because after a two-month quarantine, just like the rest of the world, we would have to partially open our economy),” Roque said.
He, meanwhile, reminded the public anew to observe physical distancing and crowd control measures under the “new normal” until a vaccine for Covid-19 has been developed.
Earlier, Joint Task Force Covid Shield commander Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar warned that failure of mall security managers to implement safe physical distancing will result in the closure of their establishments.
Besides the closure of malls, he said the filing of appropriate charges against the management could also be facilitated.
Metro Manila and the provinces of Laguna, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga and Zambales are currently under modified ECQ (MECQ) until May 31.
The cities of Cebu and Mandaue in Cebu province remain under ECQ. Meanwhile, the rest of the country was placed under GCQ. (PNA)