MGCQ seen in Metro Manila, if COVID-19 downtrend prevails â Palace
Metro Manila remains under GCQ until Oct. 31, while the IATF continues to review the attack rates of COVID-19 and the healthcare capacity on which its decision to change the quarantine status rely.
STAR/Boy Santos, file
MGCQ seen in Metro Manila, if COVID-19 downtrend prevails – Palace
Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - October 18, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Metro Manila may soon be placed under more relaxed quarantine status if the daily attack and fatality rates of COVID-19 continue to go down, Malacañang said yesterday.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the request to increase the allowed capacity in churches for masses and soon for simbang gabi will also be addressed by government.

Roque said he will check with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) if it can look into the request of Fr. Douglas Bandong, parochial vicar of Quiapo Church, to increase the allowed percentage of churchgoers in the run-up to the Christmas season.

“We’ll be looking into that, once the attack rate and health capacity will improve, then we can go into MGCQ,” he said, referring to the more relaxed modified general community quarantine which would allow more people in public places and attending religious activities.

Metro Manila remains under GCQ until Oct. 31, while the IATF continues to review the attack rates of COVID-19 and the healthcare capacity on which its decision to change the quarantine status rely.

If the R-Naught rate – the average number of people an infected person can infect – will consistently be less than one as it is now, Roque said the National Capital Region may be placed under MGCQ by November.

“It depends on our obedience to wearing masks, hand-washing and avoiding large groups in church at this time, so that more of us can attend the predawn masses (simbang gabi),” he said in Filipino over dzBB radio.

Roque noted that the government’s infomercials remain effective in getting the message across so that people will not let their guard down in abiding by the health protocols.

Antigen testing defended

Meanwhile, Roque defended the use of antigen testing for travelers who intend to go abroad.

The IATF has allowed outbound travel for non-essential trips as long as the persons undergo health protocols, including negative results from antigen testing no more than 24 hours before departure.

“While it remains under pilot testing, many countries have used the testing,” Roque said, saying that Antigen testing has become one of the credible devices used abroad to monitor carriers of the virus.

“Chances are, many (countries still) require that you are going to be required to undergo testing in your country of destination,” he added.

While Filipinos can leave the country any time, Roque maintained that the government has not decided to allow tourists to come to the Philippines for safety and health reasons.

Amid the gradual easing of quarantine restrictions, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said the government is still ready to resort to “drastic measures” if there is a spike in COVID-19 cases again.

“[If there’s a sudden spike in cases, we have to again resort to drastic measures,” Año told CNN Philippines, adding that the numbers are being monitored by the IATF.

In the past week, government has moved to further ease restrictions, particularly in the operation of businesses, tourism establishments and even travel, in a bid to get the economy going.

Among the latest measures is the expanding of the age group of people allowed to go out of their houses, which is now 15 to 65 years old.

It has also eased restrictions on foreign and local travel, as well as allowing malls to conduct sales and promo events.

“In line with the call of the economic sector to open the economy, we’re ensuring that we have good risk management,” said Año. – Romina Cabrera

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