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Philippine official says another quarantine extension ‘difficult’ to sustain

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MANILA (Philippine Daily Inquirer) — Can the economy still sustain an extension of the enhanced community quarantine?

Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia on Thursday admitted that it would be difficult.

“It’s difficult. A lot of people are saying that there needs to be partial opening. However, there should be precaution against the resurgence or the relapse of people who had been cured or who were able to avoid the Covid-positive situation,” Pernia said in an interview over DZMM radio station.

“This has happened already in China, in Wuhan because when they lifted the lockdown, there were relapses. Even Singapore also is suffering from relapse and Korea so we have to be careful about opening up (and) lifting the quarantine in some areas,” the National Economic and Development Authority chief added.

Pernia explained that in terms of the economic impact of Covid-19, the country’s economic growth rate for 2020 is expected to take a hit.

“The worst case scenario could be between (negative) 1% and zero. The more upbeat scenario would be a growth rate of between 1 and 2%,” Pernia explained.

President Rodrigo Duterte has placed all of the northern island of Luzon under an enhanced community quarantine in March as the number of people infected with the new virus swells. The quarantine was supposed to end mid-April but Duterte extended it until April 30.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, spokesman of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, said Wednesday that government is slowly fine-tuning its “game plan” after April 30.

Nograles said, however, that there is no final decision yet on whether the quarantine will be extended.

Pernia said there are certain industries that should be partially opened despite the pandemic.

These include personal services such as haircut, laundry, and housecleaning, among others.

Pernia earlier proposed a “modified lockdown” which includes easing of transportation and opening of some stores.

He is likewise hoping for the resumption of the Build, Build, Build program particularly some “important” projects that seek to ease traffic situation in Metro Manila.

The rehabilitation of the Metro Rail Transit and the Light Rail Transit should also resume, he added.

November 2020 pssnewsletter

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