MANILA – An estimated 8.3 million Filipinos would have contracted the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), had the government failed to impose an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) aimed at arresting the spread of the new pathogen, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said Tuesday.
Nograles made the pronouncement as he bared that the “worst-case” scenarios presented by groups of experts had found that millions of Filipinos would get infected with Covid-19 sans the implementation of measures against the coronavirus.
In a virtual presser aired on state-run PTV-4, he said at least four groups of experts had warned that the number of Filipinos who might acquire Covid-19 could run into 1.9 million, 5.2 million, 6.2 million, and even 8.3 million, respectively, should the government fail to address the pandemic in the country.
Nograles also noted that without an ECQ, at least 100,000 Filipinos would potentially die from Covid-19.
“Kung hindi tayo agad nag-lockdown, we would have potential loss, 100,000 Filipino lives. Kasi syempre, pag ito po yung peak, 1.9, 5.2, 6.2, 8.3 million Filipinos (Had we not imposed a lockdown, we would have potential loss of 100,000 Filipino lives. Because, of course, if this is the peak, 1.9 [million], 5.2 [million], 6.2 [million], 8.3 million Filipinos),” he said.
The experts' estimates were much higher than the World Health Organization’s previous warning that there could be 75,000 Covid-19 cases in the Philippines by June without the government’s proper intervention.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier extended the imposition of an ECQ in the island of Luzon until April 30 to stop the further transmission of Covid-19.
Other local chief executives in the Visayas and Mindanao also implemented an ECQ in their respective localities to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Nograles, also acting as spokesperson of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), assured the public that the government is exhausting all efforts to reduce transmission of the new coronavirus.
“Kung pababayaan natin itong sitwasyon na wala tayong gagawin at hindi tayo mag-cooperate, hindi tayo magtutulungan, hindi tayo gagawa ng hakbang, ganoon ang mangyayari (If we ignore the situation and fail to act on it, the experts’ pronouncements might happen),” he said. “’Yun po ang iniiwasan natin (We are avoiding the possible worst-case scenario).”
Case doubling time of Covid-19 cases slowed down
The Philippines reported on Tuesday that it has 4,932 confirmed cases of Covid-19, with 315 deaths and 242 recoveries.
Despite the increase in confirmed Covid-19 cases, Nograles disclosed that the case doubling time of infections has slowed down.
“So ang ibig sabihin, mas mabagal na po ang case doubling time ng Covid-19 dito sa bansang Pilipinas. And that is more accurate now than before kasi mas marami na nga yung mga test na nako-conduct (That means the case doubling time in the Philippines has slowed down. And that is more accurate now than before because we have done many tests),” he said.
Nograles also noted that the number of positive Covid-19 cases in the country is “slowly decreasing,” while the percentage of new cases is “bending backwards.”
“Ito yung general findings ng mga eksperto tungkol sa nangyayari dito sa bansang Pilipinas (These are the general findings of experts with regard to the situation in the Philippines),” he said.
ECQ assessment continues
Quizzed about the fate of the ECQ in Luzon after April 30, he reiterated that the IATF-EID has yet to make a decision.
“Tuluy-tuloy pa rin po ‘yung discussions namin sa IATF tungkol doon sa transition to a community quarantine (The IATF’s discussions about the transition to a community quarantine continues),” Nograles said.
He said the IATF-EID would also set “very strict and stringent” guidelines on “what (the) new normal is.”
“Sinabi naman ni Pangulo na nandiyan pa rin ang mask, nandiyan pa rin ang social distancing, ang physical distancing, personal hygiene, washing (The President said the practice of using face masks, social distancing, physical distancing, personal hygiene, and washing must still be observed). All of these will be part of the new normal,” he said.
Appeal to ECQ violators
Amid the implementation of the ECQ, Nograles appealed to everyone to heed the government’s directives to ensure the successful fight against Covid-19.
He made the plea anew after receiving reports that some people continue to violate the quarantine protocols.
Nograles said returning to a normal life would only be attained if everyone cooperates with the government.
“We all want life to go back to normal,” he said. “This, however, will only be possible if we all remain vigilant and continue to take the necessary precautions to prevent the virus from spreading.”
Under Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, quarantine violators will either get jailed for two months or pay a fine of PHP1 million, or both.
Data from Joint Task Force Corona Virus Shield found that about 104,996 individuals have violated the quarantine measures from March 17 to April 11. (PNA)