Malacañang on Monday said the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases is responsible for the decision to extend the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) implemented in Metro Manila and nearby area, amid calls for the extension of the MECQ.

In a statement, Palace spokesman Harry Roque said the effects of the lockdowns have yet to manifest.

He explained that the incubation period of the novel coronavirus, according to health experts, is 14 days, the same time span as the lockdowns.

“We just have to wait for that time to ascertain the health impact of the MECQ classification,” he said.

“On the suggestion to make the MECQ effective for one month, this is a decision that has to be made by the [IATF]. It entails a delicate balancing of protecting and saving people’s health [with] protecting and saving the economic health of the nation,” he added.

Former National Task Force for Covid-19 special adviser Dr. Tony Leachon in a Teleradyo interview last Aug. 8 suggested that a one-month extension of the MECQ would be essential to flatten the curve.

“Kung talagang MECQ ang gusto nila, isagad nila nang isang buwan tapos i-build up na ang healthcare capacity. Magpa-flatten tayo ng curve,” he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte last Aug. 3 placed Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan and Rizal under MECQ from Aug. 4 to 18, following frontliners’ plea for a “time out” amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

He is expected to address the nation tonight for updates on the country’s Covid-19 situation. John Ezekiel J. Hirro