Longer Luzon lockdown? Duterte may decide next week: COVID-19 plan chief

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 06 2020 08:04 AM | Updated as of Apr 06 2020 09:02 AM

A man wearing a protective mask on his neck walks past closed shops in an empty street following the lockdown in the Philippine capital to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Manila, Philippines, March 24, 2020. Eloisa Lopez, Reuters/File

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte might decide between this weekend and early next week on whether or not to extend the lockdown of some 50 million people in Luzon to contain COVID-19 cases, a leader of the country's pandemic action plan said Monday. 

Duterte will take into account whether new cases and deaths are decreasing while recoveries spike, said COVID-19 Response Chief Implementor Carlito Galvez, Jr. who backed the extension of the lockdown initially set until April 12. 

"Sa aking pagtingin po, kailangan talaga ng extension kasi hindi po natin mafa-flatten ang curve, iyong increase ng new cases," he told DZMM. 

(I think an extension is really necessary because we have not yet flattened the curve the increase of new cases.) 

"Ang nakikita ko, magde-decide ang mahal na Presidente siguro between April 12 and April 14. Ihahanda pa rin natin ang mga pangangailangan ng ating mga mamamayan," he added. 

(The President will perhaps decide between April 12 and 14. We are still preparing the needs of our citizens.) 

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The Philippines as of Sunday confirmed 3,246 cases of the respiratory disease, including 152 deaths and 64 recoveries. 

A mass testing set to start on April 14 will prioritize some 30,000 people with symptoms of the disease and 100,000 asymptomatic people who were exposed to carriers or had traveled abroad. It will also focus first on areas "saturated" with COVID-19 cases like Quezon City, Manila and Davao, said Galvez. 

The southern cities of Zamboanga, Cotabato and Marawi have a "splattered concentration" of cases, he added. 

The Philippines has 9 testing sites across the country, which authorities aim to double this week, Galvez said.