Duterte extends MECQ in 'NCR Plus' to May 14


MANILA, Philippines — Metro Manila and its four nearby provinces will remain under Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine until mid-May, President Rodrigo Duterte announced.

'NCR Plus' shifted to MECQ in mid-April after spending two weeks in ECQ, or the strictest quarantine classification. It came as government wrestled with a surge in COVID-19 cases that has continued at present.

In his weekly public address, Duterte said MECQ will be retained in the quarantine bubble until May 14.

"We have breached the million mark and it does not really surprise me," he said, referring to those not following health protocols. "There will always be a rise at an exponential rise of COVID-19 cases if you don't follow the law."

Experts in recent weeks noted a decrease in daily new COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila. They warned, however, that prematurely easing curbs could set the country off worse as hospitals remain full.

Santiago City in Isabela province, as well as the provinces of Quirino and Abra will also be under MECQ for the entire month.

The following areas, meanwhile, will be under GCQ: Apayao, Baguio City, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Batangas, Quezon, Tacloban City in Leyte, Iligan City in Northern Mindanao and Davao City.

Duterte said the rest of the Philippines will be under modified GCQ. Luzon and the Western Visayas and Zamboanga Peninsula regions were also classified as "high-risk areas."

Metro Manila mayors earlier today agreed to shorten curfew hours to 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. beginning May 1. 

They also proposed a "flexible" MECQ, where more businesses will be allowed to resume work while keeping border control and strict health protocols. There was no mention of this so far in Duterte's address.

Philippine coronavirus cases reached a million on April 26, more than a year since the pandemic hit the country. On Wednesday, the number of Filipinos dead from the disease also climbed beyond 17,000.

Health officials have reported relatively fewer additional cases this week, but have sought to clarify that this was due to fewer laboratories submitting data, or a lesser number samples being tested.




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