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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

House committee on transportation chair and Samar Rep. Edgar Sarmiento is pushing for modified lockdown and creation of “COVID-free zones” after the April 14 deadline of the Enhance Community Quarantine (ECQ) policy amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In the event the national government extends the ECQ after the April 14 deadline, the House official has suggested the imposition of a modified ECQ to allow areas with minimal cases of the deadly coronavirus to open all commercial activities including public transportation but still maintain a closed border.

The modified lockdown proposal “will have areas that would remain under ECQ but we will also have areas that will be allowed to open businesses and allow their residents to go back to their normal lives.”

“These areas will maintain a closed border and continue to observe social distancing as extra precaution,” said Sarmiento.

He explained that lifting the lockdown in areas where cases of COVID-19 virus were either low or the curve have already flattened will allow economic activities to slowly flourish back to normal operations while ensuring the contagion is contained and isolated only in cities and municipalities that are still considered as hotspots.

The Samar solon stressed there are many provinces, cities and municipalities covered by the ECQ that remain COVID-free and if they remain that way after the mandatory quarantine, it should be safe to lift the quarantine.

Based on the monitoring of the Department of Health (DoH), there are only 105 out of 771 cities and municipalities in Luzon that has COVID-19 cases. Of the 40 provinces in the entire Luzon including the National Capital Region, only 23 has COVID cases, many of which only have one or two cases.

Sarmiento cited the cases of the provinces of Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte and Kalinga Apayao as possible “COVID-free zones” because they have no recorded cases of the dreaded disease until now.

In order to ensure that these COVID-free zones will remain free from any possible infection, their borders should remain closed from people coming from areas with cases of the said deadly disease, according to the Samar solon.

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