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President Duterte to lift Luzon’s ECQ if COVID-19 Vaccine Found

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte to lift the Luzon-wide Enhance Community Quarantine once an antibody against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) would become available in the market, he said in a late-night briefing Monday, April 13.

“If there’s an available antibody in the market, and when I can see that it is being used, I will lift it. At least, if you get sick, we have antibodies to buy,” Duterte said

In mid-March, Duterte placed Luzon under a month-long enhanced community quarantine. It was supposed to end on April 13, Monday but he approved the proposal to extend it until April 30 as the COVID-19 cases in the country continued to rise.

The President claimed that a giant pharmaceutical firm, which he refused to name, had already developed an antibody against COVID-19 that might come out in the market by May.

“There is medicine already, an antibody of a giant pharmaceutical. They say by May, they would start to sell it” he said.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles could not elaborate on Duterte’s statements, saying he did not discuss in detail the information relayed to him.

Asked what would happen if a vaccine is not yet available by May, Nograles said the IATF is still discussing protocols to be implemented as Luzon transitions from a lockdown to a community-based quarantine.

“We will identify what industries, how many percentages of workers or the workforce;  transport sector, what we will do; and all of these other factors that we will allow to slowly operate, then we will set very strict and stringent guidelines on what the new normal is,” Nograles said.

“The wearing of masks, social distancing, physical distancing, personal hygiene, washing, all of these will be part of the new normal. So, that is still in the process of being finalized,” he added.

The public should take precautionary measures even after April 30, according to Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque.

“If there is a vaccine or medicine, there is no need to talk about quarantine. I do not know yet the decision after April 30 but the threat of COVID-19 would remain,” he said.

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