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Sociologist Randy David believes the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) should be loosened after April 30 as the government improves its capability to test for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

In his April 19 column for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, David said people can be allowed to go out as long as physical distancing is observed and the vulnerable population, such as the elderly, remain in their homes. Proper hygiene habits, such as washing of hands and wearing face masks, must also be observed.

“But it is time we lifted the curfew and those checkpoints and barricades that prevent travel to and from Metro Manila. By the end of the month, people should be allowed to return to work and reopen their businesses,” he said.

David, a professor emeritus at the University of the Philippines Diliman, said operations of public transportation must resume, while churches should be allowed to reopen.

“Schools may have to remain closed until the end of the current semester. While discouraging social gatherings especially in enclosed spaces, family and intimate friends must be allowed to hold brief wakes for their dead,” he said.

David said the ECQ’s effectiveness will be limited unless the government ramps up mass testing for COVID-19. He said suspected cases must be tested then isolated, while those who came into contact with them should be traced.

“[U]ntil more robust testing is done, and more assiduous contact-tracing and careful documentation of COVID-19-related deaths are conducted, we are basically blind,” he said.

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