Elite policemen patrol a market while people shop during a government imposed enhanced quarantine as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 novel coronavirus in Manila on April 21, 2020.
AFP/Maria Tan
Palace says Metro Manila nearly reverted to modified ECQ
Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - June 17, 2020 - 5:19pm

MANILA, Philippines — Metro Manila, which accounts for about half of the country's coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases, nearly reverted to a stricter quarantine scenario, Malacañang revealed Wednesday.

The country's capital region, home to more than 12 million people, will remain under the more lenient general community quarantine (GCQ) until June 30 despite the rising number of people who caught the virus.

The government, however, tightened the quarantine measures in Cebu City, which has reverted to the strictest enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and nearby Talisay City, which is now under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Metro Manila almost joined the fate of the two areas that are now under more stringent community quarantine.

"Metro Manila was even ‘pasang-awa (borderline)’ for GCQ. To qualify for GCQ or moderate risk, you need to have a case doubling rate of 7 (days); Metro Manila’s case doubling rate is 6.9," Roque told ABS-CBN News Channel.

"So, if we were strict about it, Metro Manila would have been back to modified ECQ. But 6.9 is, you know, almost 7 and that’s why we classified (Metro Manila under) GCQ," he added.

Only indispensable services like health care, agriculture, and food distribution, export-oriented business, and business process outsourcing are allowed in areas under ECQ. When an area shifts to MECQ, selected industries can partially resume operations but all modes of public transportation remain suspended.

Restrictions in some modes of public transportation and majority of industries are lifted in GCQ areas but leisure activities and tourism remain suspended and public gatherings are still limited.

Under the most lenient MGCQ, all establishments and some forms of mass transportation may resume operations but cannot fully operate to ensure safe distancing. Public events are also permitted but only up to half of the venue may be filled up.

Roque said what made Metro Manila different from Cebu City is the availability of health facilities that can serve people who will get sick.

"One thing going for Metro Manila though which is not going for Cebu City is that we have substantial critical care capacity. Our occupancy rate for our critical care wards as well as isolation facilities is only at around 30 to 40% so we have about 60 to 70% capacity still," the Palace spokesman said.

"Cebu City, on the other hand, had a case doubling rate of 6.6 (days) and then it had already 100% capacity for ICU (intensive care unit) beds and 93% capacity for its isolation facilities which is now classified as dangerous. And that’s why Cebu became an ECQ and Metro Manila retained its classification of GCQ," he added.

Roque said case doubling rate and critical care capacity determine the quarantine classification of an area.

Aside from Metro Manila, other areas that will be under GCQ until the end of the month are Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino and Santiago City in Cagayan Valley; Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Olongapo, Tarlac in Central Luzon; Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon in CALABARZON; Occidental Mindoro in MIMAROPA, all in Luzon; Bohol, Cebu province, Negros Oriental, Siquijor, Mandaue City, and Lapu-Lapu City in the Visayas and Davao City and Zamboanga City in Mindanao.

The rest of the country have been placed under the most relaxed MGCQ as the government strives to gradually reopen the economy while containing the virus. 

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