By Genalyn Kabiling
Downgrading the status of Metro Manila from modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) to general community quarantine (GCQ) may be “possible” if there will be a marked improvement in certain health factors, according to a Palace official.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said any decision on the quarantine classification of an area will be based on the doubling rate of coronavirus cases, critical health care capacity, and economic factors.
Metro Manila and other parts of the country remain under varying community quarantine levels until the end of the month to stem the spread of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The decision to relax, lift, or extend these lockdown measures lies with President Duterte and the Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).
“Kung ang datos po ay magpapakita na napabagal na iyong pagdoble ng kaso ng COVID at dadamihan ang ating critical care capacity, posible po iyan. Pero hintayin po natin ang pormal na anunsiyo ng IATF (If the data show a slowdown in the case doubling rate of COVID and critical care capacity will increase, that is possible. But let’s wait for the formal announcement of the IATF),” Roque said in an interview over DZRH when asked if the Metro Manila will be downgraded to a GCQ area by June 1.
Roque said “science” will remain the basis of the government in determining whether or not to lift, relax, or extend the community quarantine in an area. So far, he welcomed the “good news” that the case doubling rate has slowed down to around seven days while critical care capacity continues to accelerate.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana reportedly disclosed that it was “more likely” that Metro Manila will shift to the more relaxed GCQ by June 1. The areas with high infection rate, however, may still reportedly be placed under quarantine control to address the health concern.
At present, only Cebu City and Mandaue City are under the more restrictive ECQ until the end of the month.
The rest of the country are under the more relaxed general community quarantine (GCQ) except for Metro Manila, Laguna, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga and Zambales which are under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).
The government had earlier moved to gradually ease the lockdown measures in the country by allowing more businesses to operate at full capacity subject to minimum health standards. Mass gatherings for the provision of critical government service and authorized humanitarian activities are also allowed in all quarantine areas.