Palace eyeing 25% drop in COVID-19 cases after two-week GCQ bubble in ‘NCR+’

Published March 22, 2021, 12:20 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

A “dramatic reduction” in coronavirus cases is the ultimate aim of the government at end of the two-week implementation of stricter movement curbs in Metro Manila and four nearby provinces, according to a Palace official.


Presidential spokesman Harry Roque explained the additional restrictions such as ban on mass gatherings have been imposed in “NCR+” to prevent the further spread of the illness.

“We’re estimating that with these measures, and at the end of the two-week period, that the numbers would drop by at least 25 percent but we’re hoping for more,” Roque said over ANC’s Headstart Monday, March 22.

The government has placed Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal under general community quarantine (GCQ) with additional restrictions such as the prohibition on mass gatherings and non-essential travel from March 22 to April 4, 2021. A common curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. will also be implemented during the two-week period based on a resolution of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).

The country has seen more than 7,000 daily infections in recent days as new coronavirus variants have been detected. As of March 21, the country has recorded 663,794 confirmed cases with 12,968 deaths.

Before deciding on the GCQ bubble, Roque said three health experts told the IATF that the country’s cases would likely increase further “unless we do something.” The COVID-19 case surge has been attributed to increased mobility and the detection of new coronavirus variants in the country, he added.

Asked if the restrictions will only be until April 4, Roque said: “For now it is. The decision of the IATF na it will be only until for these next two weeks.”

“But we want to see a dramatic reduction in the cases after the two-week period. We realize of course that we will not see the results immediately but we’re hoping that — because it takes two weeks to see the results — at the end of two weeks after April 4, then the numbers will have gone down for everyone’s sake,” he said.

Roque also insisted the GCQ bubble, where entry and exit in the area are restricted except for essential travels, was not a lockdown since the economy remained open. The government merely imposed restrictions on mobility to avoid large gatherings, he claimed, were considered “super-spreaders of the virus.”

“Despite the travel bubble imposed in Metro Manila and the adjoining provinces, amongst the institutions allowed to go in and out of the bubble are those who are employed as long as they show work ID,” he said.

“So the intention really is to limit mobility while at the same time keep the economy open because we know as a consequence of lockdown, more and more people will go hungry,” he added.

Roque also appealed anew to the residents of NCR and four provinces, especially the seniors and the vulnerable, to stay at home as much as possible except for work and essential activities. He said a stay-at-home rule has become a “tried and tested formula” to reduce COVID transmission in communities.