'NCR Plus' bubble enforcement crucial to prevent spread of Delta variant — OCTA

Christian Deiparine - Philstar.com
'NCR Plus' bubble enforcement crucial to prevent spread of Delta variant â OCTA
Vendors, delivery drivers and others who work at the night market in Divisoria, Manila wait for their turn to be inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine on July 5, 2021 as the local government starts their night vaccination program which will cater to individuals who cannot go to inoculation sites during daytime.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — OCTA Research on Sunday called for a stricter implementation of the NCR Plus bubble to prevent the Delta variant from entering the region. 

Health authorities last week reported 16 new cases from the highly transmissible variant of the COVID-19, two of which were from Metro Manila.

OCTA fellow Guido David told dzMM's "Teleradyo" that the country should take a proactive response in addressing the new threat.

"We should not wait for it to enter," he said in Filipino. "It will spread fast and will be hard to prevent once it starts in our region."

Delta was first identified in India, and is seen to be driving a new surge in infections, even in countries with high vaccination coverage. 

Indonesia, a close neighbor of the Philippines, is dealing with a significant uptick in cases due to this variant. Last week, it reported 54,000 new COVID-19 cases in a single day, with hospitals there already overwhelmed.

David said their proposed bubble would now be meant to keep away the Delta variant from the capital region, coming from the provinces.

"If we have a bubble and we are able to protect ourselves, the economy can still continue inside the NCR Plus," he added. "We won't have a lockdown and children could still go outside because Delta would not be able to enter."

The government has shifted Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal and Bulacan under a regular general community quarantine until end-July. 

David continued that it was good how Navotas, for one, is carrying out a strict border control. But the challenge, he said, is on getting different areas to do the same. 

"Border controls are important but how do we coordinate it?" he said. "I understand that their concern is the economy. But if we have a bubble and NCR Plus is protected, we won't be affected from the outside and our economy can go on."

The OCTA fellow added that non-essential travel should be restricted anew, and only those essential should be allowed.

Almost all the 35 Delta variant cases in total that the Philippines reported had since recovered, with one dead.

Of the 16 new infections, six were from Northern Mindanao, two from Western Visayas and one from Central Luzon. 

The five others were returning Filipinos from abroad, health officials said.

David suggested that government create other "bubbles" across the country to better control the possible spread of the variant.

"It was no longer surprising that Delta was reported in areas with recent surges," he said in Filipino. "We have not seen a surge worse as that in Indonesia or India, but that doesn't mean it is not spreading."

Travel restrictions to passengers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesch, United Arab Emirates and Oman has since been extended until end of the month still due to Delta, and now include Indonesia.

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: September 14, 2021 - 10:16am

Follow this thread for updates on COVID-19 risk levels, safety measures, and data from Metro Manila's local government units.

Photo: The STAR/Michael Varcas

September 14, 2021 - 10:16am

Metro Manila will be placed under general community quarantine with alert level 4 starting September 16, according Interior Secretary Eduardo Año.

Under alert level 4, alfresco dine-in is allowed up to 30% capacity while indoor dine-in is allowed up to 10% capacity but for fully vaccinated customers only.

Personal care services and religious gatherings will be allowed up to 30% capacity if outdoor and 10% capacity for indoor but for fully vaccinated only.

September 9, 2021 - 12:55pm

A total of 122 individuals, including 99 children, at the Gentlehands Orphanage in Quezon City tested positive with COVID-19.

Following this development, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte called on the management of workplaces to strictly implement minimum public health protocols amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Dapat maging mahigpit ang ating persons in authority sa pagpapatupad nito para maiwasan natin ang pagkalat ng virus," Belmonte says in a statement.

September 8, 2021 - 11:48am

The government should compensate small businesses in Metro Manila that were affected by shifting decisions on quarantine classifications, Akbayan paty-list says.

Metro Manila was supposed to shift to General Community Quarantine on Wednesday until an announcement on Tuesday evening that that planned shift, which was supposed to also see a shift to "granular" lockdowns, would be deferred until September 15 or until guidelines are finalized.

"The [Inter-Agency Task Force] must reimburse small businesses that incurred losses due to its ‘laban-bawi’ quarantine protocols. This kind of negligence and thoughtlessness from the government hurts everyone, especially small enterprises and their workers who are trying their best to survive despite the pandemic," party-list nominee Perci Cendaña says in a statement.

September 7, 2021 - 6:50pm

Metro Manila to remain under Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine until September 15, 2021 or until the government irons out guidelines on a new quarantine system, the Palace announces.

Metro Manila was supposed to revert to General Community Quarantine from September 8 as the government tests using 'granular' lockdowns instead of region-wide quarantine classifications.

September 6, 2021 - 12:40pm

Metro Manila is reverting to the more lenient General Community Quarantine from September 8 to 30, according to a resolution by the inter-agency pandemic task force.

Members of the task force last week said the government may shift to "granular" lockdowns, or smaller-scale and localized hard lockdowns, instead of classifications that are region-wide.  

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