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Salceda backs 2-week extension of Luzon lockdown: ‘Premature lifting is against science, economics, history’

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

House committee on ways and chair Joey Salceda has called for an extension of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) over Luzon, saying that premature lifting is “against science, economics, and history.”

Salceda said “historical, scientific, and economic evidence points to a more cautious approach to the pandemic is evidence-based, logical, lifesaving.”

Salceda stressed a premature lifting of the ECQ “would not be good for the economy” since it will not fulfill the government’s public health objectives over the coronavirus pandemic.

“It risks getting us back to square zero in terms of our progress in fighting this disease,” he said.

He noted two critical factors in fighting the COVID-19 virus–mobility and “isolation tendency.”

“The ECQ has significantly reduced mobility. You can see that in reduced energy consumption and in reduced demand for fuel. So, people are no longer moving around carrying the virus as much as they would have,” said Salceda.

“The second critical factor is what we call isolation tendency. It’s how much you isolate confirmed and suspected cases from the rest of the population. And that only increases once you know who are COVID-positive in the first place, through mass testing,” he added.

The Albay solon warned that “the damage to the economy will be much bigger if we have to start all over again.”

“It’s wishful thinking to suggest that we’ve reached the peak. No data scientist would say that, and certainly no doctor or public health expert would be enthusiastic about lifting the ECQ at this stage in our country’s health care capacity,” he said.

Salceda stressed that the most reputable sources in the medical community have never suggested “to shorten the lockdown,” but have done quite the opposite, proposing at least si-week lockdowns to avoid prematurely lifting restrictions and triggering a massive wave of new infections.

“The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation says we can keep lockdowns to six to 10 weeks, if countries do well. The Hubei lockdowns which worked remarkably were six to eight-week shutdowns. And Northern Italy has been on lockdown since March 9, with no end in sight yet,” said Salceda.

In his letter to President Duterte, Salceda, later followed by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez in a separate statement to the media days later, strongly recommended mass testing to “confront the enemy.”

“We must increase our testing by at least 10,000 specimens per day, contact trace and isolate with the best logical and technological means available (mobile tracking, GPS, mapping, etc.),” said Salceda.

“We must identify infection clusters with data from mass testing and intensified contact tracing, and confront the virus where it is,” he added.

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