President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday he is not keen on lifting the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) if no anti-viral drug is discovered by May.

Duterte, in his usual late night address, said that the enforced ECQ over Luzon and certain parts of Visayas and Mindanao will not be lifted until a cure is “tested medically”.

“There’s no end in sight. Anong katapusan nito? Wala pa, and our numbers are increasing,” he said.

He also claimed that certain drugs were already discovered by more scientifically advanced countries but will probably reach Philippines late because “we are at the end of the ladder”.

However, no reported cure or vaccines were approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) as clinical trials were still ongoing.

Duterte insisted that Filipino citizens stay at home and strictly observe ECQ measures, which supposedly would have ended on April 12.

Hospitals throughout the country were also threatened to face penal sanctions if found to be declining to treat patients suspected of the deadly coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The Philippines is about to reach the 5,000 mark of COVID-positive patients, and has reported some 315 COVID-deaths including some over 38 medical practicing who handled the COVID-patients.

“It doesn’t end with those at the hospital being treated now. This is just the first wave. Magkakaroon pa ito ng second wave. Those who were infected by others that are being treated are the second wave. That’s why you should maintain the social distancing rule,” he added.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) last week imposed a temporary ban on sending health care workers abroad to alleviate the continued decrease of professionals at the medical frontline of the infection.

Meanwhile, Puerto Princesa City mayor Lucilo Bayron urged medical graduates to apply as frontliners on the “COVID-19 war” as the City plans to “scale up” its “aggressive outbreak response”.

He said that the City Health Office (CHO) was recently funded to increase its manpower as it strengthens “contact tracing” and COVID-watch monitoring.

“We are hiring additional nurses, ito ay funded na at kailangan nilang mag-apply sa CHO,” he said.

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is a desk editor and senior reporter of Palawan News. He covers politics, environment, tourism, justice, and sports. In his free time, he enjoys long walks with his dog, Bayani.