Metro Manila mayors urge stricter quarantine, open to two-week ECQ

Metro Manila mayors urge stricter quarantine, open to two-week ECQ
Marikina residents are seen inside the public market of the city on July 28, 2021. The Department of Health reports an increase in new COVID-19 infections following the detection of the local transmission of its Delta variant.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — Metro Manila mayors have joined calls for stricter quarantine measures in response to the highly infectious COVID-19 Delta variant in the country. 

This comes after President Rodrigo Duterte late Wednesday night announced that Metro Manila would remain under general community quarantine "with heightened restrictions."

At the meeting of the MMC earlier Wednesday night, Metro Manila mayors expressed "readiness" to enter a two-week enhanced community quarantine once more provided the national government has funds for another wave of social amelioration aid.

The mayors also requested the national government to open the vaccination to the general population without classification, adding that the imposition of stricter measures must be coupled with the allocation of at least four million vaccines for NCR which they committed to administering over the two-week period.

"As it is, there is now an increase of COVID-19 cases in the NCR...Three to four weeks ago, the growth rate of COVD-19 cases in the NCR is at -6%. However, for the past one to two weeks, there is a significant increase in growth rate which is now at 19%," MMC chairman Benhur Abalos said in a statement. 

"Needless to say, SAP is important to address the concerns of underprivileged families as they will be the ones who will be greatly affected by the ECQ declaration."

To recall, businesses have already expressed support for a fresh round of brief lockdowns to curb Delta variant infections. 

READ: As COVID-19 cases rise, business leaders back 2-week lockdown in Metro Manila

Both the MMC and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority requested the coronavirus task force to impose stricter quarantine measures as it backed the Department of Health’s appeal to intensify local COVID-19 responses to local transmission of the variant.

As it currently stands, the local governments of San Juan City and Quezon City have confirmed Delta variants in their cities, with the latter admitting that local transmission is "possible." 

To date, health authorities have recorded 1.57 million coronavirus cases in the Philippines. 

Projections by health experts cited by Abalos also said that daily cases may reach up to 11,000 by the end of September 2021.

The mayors also vowed to meet daily to assess their respective localities, discuss further action against the Delta threat and recommend collectively to the national government relevant quarantine restrictions and measures.

They will also conduct intensified monitoring of their constituents’ compliance with basic health protocols.

"Aggressive contact tracing, massive testing, and strict isolation would then be ramped up to further reduce COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila while waiting for the requested four million vaccines from the national government to achieve population protection as early as possible and prevent exponential growth of positive cases from Delta variant," Abalos said. 

MMDA urges public: Quit smoking 

The MMDA chief encouraged the public to get inoculated against COVID-19 to help the government in achieving population protection the soonest possible time.  

“COVID-19 vaccines have been proven safe and effective. Hence, I urge the public to get vaccinated as soon as possible and avoid brand preference. Again, the best vaccine is what is available,” he added.

Dr. Loida Alzona, who heads the MMDA’s Health and Environmental Protection Office, stressed that staying healthy is necessary as the pandemic is not yet over.

“Practicing healthy habits, discontinuing tobacco consumption, and observing minimum public health standards such as wearing of face masks and face shields, frequent washing of hands, and the observation of physical distancing must be complied at all times to avoid spreading or contracting the coronavirus,” Alzona emphasized.

"In addition, smokers who have tested positive for COVID-19 are more likely to experience severe symptoms. Now is the best time to quit smoking." 

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