NCR, 12 other areas under GCQ

Published July 31, 2020, 10:45 AM

by Genalyn Kabiling

After hitting rock-bottom, PH economy starts recovering – Dominguez

Only 13 areas, including the National Capital Region (NCR or Metro Manila), are under the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) from August 1 to 15 as the government awaits the availability of a coronavirus vaccine, President Duterte announced on Friday. 

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 30, 2020.

The President has decided to keep Metro Manila under its current GCQ status and downgraded Cebu City to GCQ, from the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ), to stem the spread of the viral illness.

Other areas under GCQ are Bulacan, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City, Talisay City, municipalities of Minglanilla and Consolacion in Cebu, and Zamboanga City. 

The rest of the country will stay under Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ), according to the President. 

The country’s latest quarantine status comes after recording 89,374 cases of coronavirus with 1,983 deaths and 65,064 recoveries as of July 30. 

In his remarks, Duterte has appealed to the public for patience and cooperation in the implementation of health measures, assuring them that the coronavirus vaccine is in sight. “Para ma-shorten ang purgatory ninyo. Kasi kung maghawaan na naman ito, walang katapusan (Observe health measures to shorten your purgatory because if you don’t, there will be continued infection and there will be no end to it),” he said. 

With the coronavirus vaccines possibly available before the end of the year, the President laid down plans to acquire such medicine and prioritize the poorest of the poor, the middle class, and government troops in the free distribution. He said he would tap the military to lead the distribution of the vaccine supply. 

Strict localized lockdown, massive targeted testing 

The government imposed certain conditions for places under community quarantine to limit the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). For Metro Manila and Region IV-A to keep their GCQ status, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the National Task Force, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, and the Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic Teams will implement in areas with high community transmission a strict localized lockdown or Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in barangays where 80 percent of cases are located, and the publication of these barangays. 

“Also part of the measures are stringent enforcement of minimum health standards, massive targeted testing, intensified tracing, and quarantine of close contacts, isolation of confirmed cases, and strict adherence to Oplan Kalinga implementation,” Roque said. 

He said government hospitals in Metro Manila and Calabarzon – which covers the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon – have been directed to increase their hospital beds dedicated to COVID-19 by up to 30 to 50 percent. 

Private hospitals are also enjoined to increase their hospital beds dedicated to COVID-19 by up to 20 to 30 percent. 

“Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega, also the NTF Treatment Czar, is directed to monitor the compliance of hospitals in these areas and to the One Hospital Command System in NCR, Region III, and Region IV-A,” he said. 

Roque said the local government units (LGUs) must submit daily updates and weekly comprehensive reports containing daily trend of active cases, number and percent of population, cases in community isolation facility vs health facility vs home for priority areas or barangays under localized lockdown. 

The LGU reports must also include the percentage of close contacts traced and the percentage of contacts in quarantine; number of utilization of community isolation beds; how they met the health system capacity targets utilization; and COVID Special Teams investigations and results, according to Roque. 

Economy recovering 

Meanwhile, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III announced that the Philippine economy, after hitting rock-bottom, has started to recover from the coronavirus crisis. 

Dominguez said business activities have begun to pick up but cited the need to expand transportation operations as well as stimulate consumer spending. 

“The economy actually is already beginning to recover. Ang estimate ho naming, we hit already the lowest part of the economy which was (last) April (and) May. Iyon ho ang pinakamababa (that’s the lowest) as we can see,” he said during the meeting with President Duterte Thursday night. 

“We have a little – a few problems. Among them, number one, ‘yung transportation, kailangan we have to have more transportation available. We have to encourage people also to start spending their – to start spending money so that the economy can start picking up,” he said. 

Dominguez also expressed optimism the country can return to normal once the coronavirus vaccine becomes available. 

“Once the vaccine is available, I’m sure the economy now can be fully open and we can start – not the new normal, the normal life,” he said. PH peso strongest in Asia So far, Dominguez said the country has no problem with liquidity, citing that inflation is “relatively low” while the Philippine peso remains the “strongest in Asia.” 

“In other words, may pera (there is money). People are not short – I mean the economy is not short of money,” the country’s finance chief said. 

“So people have faith in us. We are able also to finance it by borrowing locally at saka borrowing internationally. So we are in good shape to take this – to overcome this crisis,” he added. 

The government has gradually eased the tough virus lockdown after the economy shrank in the first quarter. 

More businesses have been allowed to reopen while limited public transportation has been allowed in a bid to jumpstart the economy and restore the people’s livelihood. 

The local economy contracted by 0.2 percent in the first three months of 2020 as the outbreak shut down many businesses and weakened consumption. 

Authorities earlier projected that economy is expected to further shrink in the second quarter.