By ARGYLL CYRUS B. GEDUCOS and NOREEN JAZUL
Malacañang said that the majority of the country will be placed under the modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) from August 16 to 31 except for 15 areas that are still in stricter lockdown measures.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the announcement on the last day of the existing quarantine period for most areas in the country except for Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal which are under the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) until August 18.
In a virtual press briefing on Saturday morning, Roque said the entire country is placed under the MGCQ until the end of the month except for the MECQ areas and the following which are classified under GCQ:
· Nueva Ecija
· Iloilo City
· Cebu City
· Lapu Lapu City
· Mandaue City
· Talisay City
· Municipality of Minglanilla, Cebu
· Municipality of Consolacion, Cebu
Meanwhile, Roque said that President Duterte will announce the quarantine classifications of Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal on Monday, August 17.
He said that it will be up to the President to decide if he will keep the said areas under MECQ should the medical community request another timeout, especially with the spike of cases on Friday.
He, however, said that the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases already has a recommendation for the areas currently under MECQ.
“Meron na pong rekomendasyon na bingay ang IATF pero hindi po natin pwedeng pangunahan ang ating Presidente (The IATF already gave its recommendation but we cannot preempt the President),” Roque said.
President Duterte was not keen on extending the MECQ in the said areas, saying the people need to work to revive the economy.
No need to keep MECQ – UP expert
Even a research expert from the University of the Philippines (UP) said the extension of MECQ in Metro Manila is “not necessary.”
Dr. Guido David, a member of the UP-OCTA Research, said Metro Manila is getting close to flattening the curve, noting that the region’s R-naught or basic reproduction number has dropped to 1.15 from 1.5.
The research expert added that the MECQ was effective in slowing down the trend in cases.
“Alam ko siguro na alam ‘yung mga ibang tumitingin ng data, pag naririnig natin ‘yung 6,000 cases, pero ‘yung iba doon actually backlog (I know some are probably alarmed by the 6,000 cases, but some of those are actually just
backlog),” David told DZRH News in an interview Saturday.
“Pag tinitignan natin talaga ‘yung trend sa test results sa mga test centers, talagang bumababa naman (When we look at the trend of test results from testing centers, there’s actually a downward trend),” he added.
David expressed optimism on the government’s new strategy to impose localized lockdowns instead.
“We are actually optimistic dito sa magiging strategy ng government, kahit mag-GCQ (General Community Quarantine) tayo, tingin natin mamemaintain ’tong trend natin na pababa (We are actually optimistic about this strategy of government, so even if we shift to GCQ, we will be able to maintain a downward trend),” David said.
David cited Cebu City as example where the implementation of localized lockdowns worked, stating that the city’s number of daily cases went down from 300 to 90.
“Sa Cebu (City) GCQ na sila pero bumababa pa rin (ang cases), so what worked in Cebu City, i-aapply natin sa Metro Manila (In Cebu City, the number of cases continue to go down despite being under GCQ),” he said.
Meanwhile, while the rest of the country is under MGCQ already, some provinces, highly-urbanized cities, and independent component cities will still be under strict enforcement of local action.
“Magkakaroon pa rin po tayo ng localized ECQ. So wala po talagang katapusan ang ECQ dahil ang ECQ ngayon ay localized or granular (We will still have localized ECQ. So the ECQ is never-ending but it is now localized or granular),” Roque said.
He said that the National Task Force (NTF) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) are directed to ensure that areas flagged for local action shall implement strict lockdown of areas in line with the zoning containment strategy.
The NTF and the DILG shall ensure the strict enforcement of minimum public health standards, and intensified tracing and quarantine of close contacts and isolation of confirmed cases.