MANILA, Aug 2 (Mabuhay) –Two government officials on Monday said the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Metro Manila may be extended past August 20, depending on the COVID-19 situation in the capital region.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said authorities will monitor COVID-19 statistics and the vaccination rollout daily.

“We don’t also know how long this ECQ will last. Right now, it’s just two weeks,” he said.

“Imo-monitor natin ‘yung numbers, imo-monitor natin ‘yung (We’ll monitor numbers and the) vaccination rollout. We’ll take it one day at a time but also [be] mindful about August 20, so that’s at the back of our heads. We’re looking at projections,” he added.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire also told ANC that the length of the ECQ “will really depend on the numbers.”

“We will be closely monitoring and we will be assessing if we still need to extend after two weeks or we can further de-escalate after two weeks depending on the number of cases,” she said.

The government earlier announced that Metro Manila would be under ECQ, the strictest lockdown classification, from August 6 to 20 to curb the spread of the highly contagious Delta coronavirus variant.

Nograles said the government will look for means to provide aid to Metro Manila residents who will be hit hard by the tightening of restrictions.

“We’ll work with Congress siguro on this… At one point we’ll have to talk to Congress about perhaps a Bayanihan 3 and what a Bayanihan 3 should contain. That’s something that we’re looking at as possibilities,” he said.

The National Economic and Development Authority earlier said each week of ECQ in Metro Manila would cost the economy P105 billion.

Meanwhile, Vergeire said authorities are looking at ways to allow local government units to “determine and decide if they need community quarantine restrictions or not based on the evidence.”

Currently, it is the government’s inter-agency COVID-19 task force that decides on the quarantine classification of all areas but local authorities have the option to appeal.

“Moving forward, we are already discussing with our data analytics team on how, in the future, we will be able to shift,” Vergeire said.  (MNS)