NCR stays under GCQ

Published July 16, 2020, 12:10 AM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

If COVID-19 worsens, it may be placed under more restrictive MECQ

The National Capital Region (NCR or Metro Manila), which remains under the general community quarantine (GCQ) until July 31, will be placed under the more restrictive modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) if the COVID-19 situation worsens. 

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on July 15, 2020. (SIMEON CELI JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

According to presidential spokesman Harry Roque, President Duterte originally approved the recommendation of the University of the Philippines (UP) to place Metro Manila under stricter quarantine measures but two COVID-19 czars appealed the move. 

“Nag-apela po ang ating Chief Implementer [Carlito Galvez] at ang ating Secretary of the Interior and Local Government [Eduardo Año] dahil nangako ang ating mayors na paiigtingin ang kanilang lockdown; palalakasin ang testing, tracing, at treatment; at patutuparin ng mas malawakan ang restrictions sa GCQ (Secretaries Galvez and Año appealed the recommendation because the Metro Manila mayors promised to intensify their lockdown, testing, tracing, treatment, and the enforcement of quarantine restrictions),” he said Wednesday evening. 

“Kapag hindi pa rin napabagal ang pagdami ng kaso ng COVID-19 sa Metro Manila, possible pong mabalik sa MECQ. (If the case doubling rate in Metro Manila won’t go down, then it is possible that the region will be placed under the MECQ again),” he added. 

In an earlier interview with ANC on Wednesday morning, Roque said that easing restrictions in the NCR was out of the question since the case doubling rate in the region was at 7 to 9 percent. 

“It’s not bad but it warrants the existing GCQ in the region,” he said. 

New quarantine classifications 

Meanwhile, Roque announced that Cebu City will be placed under the MECQ starting July 16.

The following areas are also placed under the GCQ:

* Laguna
* Cavite
* Rizal
* Lapu Lapu City
* Mandaue City 
* Ormoc City
* Southern Leyte
* Zamboanga City
* Butuan City
* Agusan del Norte
* Basilan
* Talisay
* Minglanilla
* Consolacion, Cebu Province  

Secretary Roque said some areas in the country were brought back to the GCQ due to their case doubling rate and critical care capacity.

The following areas are placed under the modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) (medium-risk) with zoning containment strategy and strict local action:

* Benguet
* Baguio City
* Ilocos Sur
* Pangasinan
* Ilocos Norte
* La Union
* Dagupan City
* Cagayan
* Isabela
* Nueva Vizcaya
* Bataan
* Nueva Ecija
* Pampanga
* Bulacan
* Tarlac
* Zambales
* Angeles City
* Batangas
* Quezon
* Lucena City
* Oriental Mindoro
* Occidental Mindoro
* Puerto Princesa City
* Albay
* Masbate
* Camarines Norte
* Camarines Sur
* Catanduanes
* Sorsogon
* Naga City
* Iloilo
* Negros Occidental
* Capiz
* Antique
* Aklan
* Guimaras
* Iloilo City
* Bacolod City
* Negros Oriental
* Bohol
* Cebu Province
* Western Samar
* Leyte
* Biliran
* Tacloban City
* Zamboanga del Sur
* Zamboanga Sibugay
* Zamboanga del Norte
* Misamis Occidental
* Bukidnon
* Lanao del Norte
* Cagayan de Oro City
* Iligan City
* Davao Oriental
* Davao del Norte
* Davao del Sur
* Davao de Oro
* Davao City
* Sultan Kudarat
* Cotabato
* South Cotabato
* General Santos City
* Lanao del Sur
* Maguindanao   

Areas not mentioned are under the MGCQ (low risk) until July 31, 2020. 

Roque said on Wednesday morning that four cities and one province appealed their classification. 

Local government units shall still accept overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and locally stranded individuals (LSIs) but they must be placed under quarantine and should undergo PCR testing as much as possible, he said. 

Risk of opening economy 

Meanwhile, Malacañang said the country began flattening the coronavirus curve shortly after the implementation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) but such trend “did not continue” when government moved to gradually reopen the economy. 

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque admitted that the cases of coronavirus have increased after the government relaxed the quarantine restrictions and increased testing efforts. 

“Immediately after ECQ and MECQ, we noticed we have somehow experienced decline in the number of 

cases. In other words, we started we were starting to flatten the curve at some point,” Roque said over CNN Philippines Thursday. 

“But unfortunately because of the opening of the economy and also because of the intensified testing, it did not continue. The flattening did not continue,” he added. 

Roque, however, pointed out that such trend was not necessarily “negative altogether” since the expanded testing program allowed the government to track down, isolate, and treat patients with illness. 

“Tremendous increase in actual testing being conducted and testing capacity has given us the means to detect where the enemy is, we now have the space for isolation and of course now we know better on how to treat them,” he said. 

“So we have not actually flattened the curve, we slowed it down tremendously as a result of ECQ and MECQ but with intensified testing and I guess with the reopening of the economy, the cases increased anew,” he added. (With a report from Genalyn D. Kabiling)