Amid gov't claims of 'excellent' pandemic response, lockdowns and curfews in NCR
Speaking at a virtual briefing yesterday, Department of Health Epidemiology Bureau acting director Alethea de Guzman said the upward trend in infections has been observed in a majority of areas in the National Capital Region.
The STAR/Michael Varcas

Amid gov't claims of 'excellent' pandemic response, lockdowns and curfews in NCR

Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - March 9, 2021 - 6:14pm

MANILA, Philippines — It's not looking "excellent." 

With an increase in new cases in recent days, Metro Manila's local governments are back to imposing tighter curfews and lockdowns in their jurisdictions.

On Tuesday afternoon, San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora signed Executive Order No. 072 re-imposing a curfew in the city from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

The night before, Caloocan City Mayor Oscar Malapitan also signed an executive order reimposing the 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew in Caloocan, from the previous midnight to 3 a.m. one. 

Only health workers, frontline personnel, law enforcers, jeepney drivers, and other essential workers are exempted from the curfews. 

“There is a need to immediately adjust the curfew hours in Caloocan City to minimize and mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmissions,” Malapitan said. 

Palace claims 'excellent' pandemic response

Both announcements came less than a day after Malacañang claimed, without basis, a self-rated "excellent" job in grappling with the global pandemic. 

"We were excellent. We controlled the spread of the disease, especially when compared to richer countries with more modern hospitals," Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said at a press briefing Monday.

He went on to spin the situation to the government's credit, comparing the state of the pandemic in the Philippines to that of the United States and its 525,000 deaths caused by the pathogen.

Nevermind that the Philippines was the last country in Southeast Asia to receive its vaccines, or that it led the region in total cases on occasion and was in the top 20 countries in the world in that regard. 

This statement—consistent with the government's rejection of criticisms over the pandemic—punctuated a five-day stretch during which the country reported at least 3,000 new cases per day. 

"Can you imagine, America is Number 1 in terms of cases and in terms of deaths? We are not even close to their level of spending on health and the technology in our hospitals is nowhere near the technology of their hospitals," Roque went so far as saying.

READ: For Palace, it's 'wrong' to say Philippines has more COVID-19 cases than Indonesia

Local lockdowns

Later Tuesday, other cities also announced another wave of localized lockdowns to quell the spread of the virus. 

In acknowledging a rise in coronavirus cases, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte placed the following "special concern areas" under lockdown: 

  • Portion of Durian Street, Barangay Pasong Tamo - starting February 25
  • L. Pascual Street, Barangay Baesa – starting February 26
  • De Los Santos Compound, Heavenly Drive, Barangay San Agustin – starting March 1
  • No. 46 K-9th Street, Barangay West Kamias expanded to No. 46-50, K-9th Street, Barangay West Kamias – starting March 3 and 8
  • 49 & 51 E Rodriguez Sr. Ave., Barangay Doña Josefa – starting March 4
  • Paul Street and Thaddeus Street, Jordan Park Homes Subdivision, Doña Carmen, Barangay Commonwealth – starting March 4
  • No. 237 Apo Street, Barangay Maharlika – starting March 4
  • No. 64 14th Avenue, Barangay Socorro – starting March 6
  • No. 64-B Agno Extension, Barangay Tatalon – starting March 7
  • No. 90 Gonzales Compound, Barangay Balon Bato – starting March 8
  • No. 2A – 4 K-6th, Barangay West Kamias – starting March 8
  • Portion of Sitio 5, Jose Abad Santos, Barangay Sta. Lucia – starting March 9

"The local government will distribute food packs and essential kits for the affected families and they will undergo swab testing and mandatory 14-day quarantine," the city's statement read. 

Meanwhile, Manila City Mayor Francisco Domagoso ordered a 4-day “barangay lockdown” on two barangays in the nation's capital due to, he said, an increasing number of COVID-19 cases.

The mayor signed an executive order placing Barangays 351 and 725 under lockdown starting Thursday, March 11 at 12:01 a.m. until Sunday, March 14 at 11:59 p.m.

Two hotels, namely the Bayview Mansion in Brgy. 699, Malate, where 14 confirmed cases were detected, and Hop Inn Hotel where three cases were detected, were also placed under lockdown.

Cases on the uptick 

Other local chief executives, including Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto and Makati City Mayor Abby Binay, issued separate statements reminding their constituents to observe minimum health standards, all acknowledging a worsening coronavirus situation. 

In a statement sent to reporters, the Muntinlupa City local government also disclosed it had recorded a 65% increase in active cases over the past month. 

As of March 7, the city's health office recorded 129 active cases over the city's nine barangays after having just 78 active cases last February 7.

The city government also disclosed that the doubling time, or the number of days for coronavirus cases to double in number, stood at 28.6 days as of March 7. 

"The average daily new cases for the past two weeks in Muntinlupa is 12 cases per day while the recovery rate is at 94.7%," the statement added. 

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said that the next two weeks would be "crucial" in determining if the country is able to manage the rising cases.

To date, 600,428 coronavirus infections have been recorded in the Philippines. 

It has been 357 days since the national government hoisted the first enhanced community quarantine in the country. — with a report by Xave Gregorio 

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