Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III is not ruling out recommendations of stricter quarantine protocols and possible lockdowns if new cases of COVID-19 continue to spike. 

In an interview with CNN’s The Source, Duque shared that the government is trying to curb the spread of COVID-19 and its new variants by working closely with LGUs. He notes that the implementation of strict, localized lockdowns and centralized responses is already happening.

However, he says further discussion with the IATF regarding the reinforcement of the existing guidelines is needed if cases continue to leap.

Talks about intensifying current COVID-19 measures began after the anniversary of the Philippines’ first community quarantine

The latest case tallies for March saw a continual surge in confirmed COVID-19 afflictions. Yesterday, the DOH released a daily tally of 5,404 new cases, which is the highest in the last seven months. 

Duque attributed the increase in COVID-19 cases to a myriad of factors.

“The cause of the surge is a combination of factors. Number one is quarantine fatigue that people are experiencing, the breach of minimum public health standards or protocols, to a certain degree, but not absolutely determined, the possibility of the variants contributing to the surge, and, of course, the loosening of medi-quarantine restrictions and the opening, increasingly, of the large part of the economy,” he shared.

Duque notes that the significant increase in infection tallies started on March 4, labeling it as “alarming.”

He urged the public to follow health protocols put in place as it’s the “strongest protection we can have against this surge.”

The health secretary says it’ll take two weeks to a month for the localized lockdowns and the implementation of new curfew guidelines in Metro Manila to make a difference in COVID-19  case numbers.

On March 15, President Rodrigo Duterte and several Cabinet ministers convened to discuss how the government can better its current response to the pandemic, particularly with the arrival of vaccines in the country.

Watch The Source’s full interview with DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III below.

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