Palace: NCR a living experiment in fight vs COVID-19

Published July 29, 2020, 11:37 AM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang said the National Capital Region (NCR) is a living experiment in the government’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic but expressed confidence that it will be a successful one in the end.

A resident rides her bicycle past armed soldiers along a street in Navotas in suburban Manila on July 16, 2020, after the local government reimposed a lockdown in the city due to increased COVID-19 infections. – Philippine police were being deployed to ensure people who test positive for the coronavirus and cannot self-isolate at home are taken to state-run quarantine centres, sparking warnings of potential rights violations. (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP)

In an interview with CNN Philippines, presidential spokesman Harry Roque refused to divulge Metro Manila’s fate after July 31.

“Metro Manila will be a living experiment and it’s an experiment that we believe we will be successful at and it will be something that we can be proud of,” he said.

According to Roque, it will still be the case-doubling rate and critical care capacity that will determine Metro Manila’s fate whether it will stay in the general community quarantine (GCQ) status or be elevated to a stricter quarantine level.

“Our case doubling rate is fine. We’re now at 8.9. We actually improved because the longer the better,” he said.

“It’s the critical care capacity that’s the problem because (for) ICU beds, we’ve reached 80,” he added.

Roque, however, said there are steps that can be done to address the critical care capacity of Metro Manila which is now at a critical rate.

“There are steps that can be done—rationalization of hospital beds including ICU beds,” he said.

“If we have to, we will build more ICU beds for as long as the case doubling rate remains under control,” he added.

Last week, the NCR reported that the occupancy rate of its hospitals were at 88.42 percent for ward beds, 80.96 percent for isolated beds, 74.22 percent for ICU beds, and 46.97 percent for mechanical ventilators.

President Duterte originally agreed with the recommendation of the University of the Philippines (UP) to revert Metro Manila to MECQ.

However, COVID-19 National Action Plan chief implementer Carlito Galvez and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año appealed the decision to allow Metro Manila mayors to prove that they can address the pandemic.

Roque said there is a big possibility for the NCR to go back to MECQ if the country will meet the projection of the UP of 85,000 cases by the end of the month.