Metro Manila cannot shift to a more relaxed community quarantine status if the public will be complacent in following the minimum health standards, Malacañang said Thursday.
“Kung tayo po ay magpapabaya, hindi mabubuksan ang ekonomiya. Hindi magiging MGCQ ang Metro Manila kung saan 60% ng ating GDP ay nakasalalay, eh talagang hindi tayo makakabangon. Importante po talaga – ‘Mask, Hugas, Iwas’ (If we become complacent, we cannot open the economy. Metro Manila, which accounts for 60 percent of our GDP, cannot shift to MGCQ and we cannot really recover. That’s why it’s important to wear a mask, wash hands, and maintain distance),” Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said during a televised press briefing as he cited the threat of the new and more infectious coronavirus variant.
Metro Manila, considered the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the country, is among several areas under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) until the end of January. The rest of the country has stayed under the least restrictive Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) this month.
“Kapag hindi binuksan ang ekonomiya marami talagang magugutom at mamamatay kung hindi dahil sa COVID dahil nga po sa kagutuman (If the economy won’t be reopened, many will go hungry and die if not of COVID, due to hunger),” he said.
President Duterte is expected to decide soon on the country’s new quarantine level for the month of February.
Earlier, Metro Manila mayors said they will recommend that the National Capital Region (NCR) will remain under GCQ next month.
The NCR has been under GCQ since June 2020, except for a two-week imposition of Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) in August due to a timeout appeal from the medical community.
The Philippines, which initially enforced strict lockdowns to curb the transmission of COVID, has so far recorded more than 519,000 cases of infections with 10,552 deaths. Almost half of COVID cases came from the capital region.
Roque claimed that the country has so far “managed well” the cases of original coronavirus strain.
He said the country is currently ranked 32nd in the world in terms of coronavirus cases. In terms of deaths from COVID, he said the country ranked 73rd with its 2 percent fatality rate.
“I think ang mga figures po from WHO (World Health Organization) will indicate that we have been managing rather well iyong mga COVID cases dito sa Pilipinas (I think the WHO figures will indicated we have been managing rather well the COVID cases in the Philippines),” he said.
Asked to comment on a global survey showing the country’s supposed poor pandemic response, Roque said he prefers to believe the figures from WHO.
The Australian think tank Lowly Institute recently released a study showing the Philippines ranked 79th out o 98 countries in terms of handling the coronavirus pandemic. The country obtained a score of 30.6 out of 100.
New Zealand topped the list with 94.4 scored, followed by Vietnam, Taiwan and Thailand.
“Ang pinagtitiwalaan ko po WHO. Ang sabi po ng WHO active cases, number 32 in the world –
hindi, ang total cases number 32 in the world – iyan po ay dati 18 (I trust the WHO. The WHO said we are number 32 in the world in total cases, from 18),” Roque said.
“Pero iyon nga po tahimik ang lahat ‘no, hindi naman pinapansin na napakalaki nang improvement natin sa total cases (Everyone was silent about that. It was not noticed that we had a huge improvement in terms of total cases),” he added.