Palace: More businesses to reopen, ICU beds during MECQ extension

Published April 29, 2021, 1:47 PM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang said the government’s pandemic task force was set to meet to finalize the list of new businesses that will be allowed to reopen under the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).

A volunteer firefighter sprays disinfectant at the Golden Mosque in Quiapo, Manila on April 29, 2021 (Ali Vicoy/Manila Bulletin)

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after President Duterte approved extending the MECQ in the National Capital Region-plus (NCR-plus) bubble until May 14 to address the spike in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases.

In his press briefing, Roque said the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases will meet on Thursday afternoon, April 29, to discuss the further reopening of the economy in MECQ.

“Ito po ay sang-ayon doon sa ating goal na i-promote po ang total health ng mga mamamayan, mabawasan ang kaso ng COVID, at itaguyod po ang hanapbuhay ng mga mamamayan para hindi naman po sila magutom (This is aligned with our goal to promote the total health of the public, reduce the number of COVID-19 cases, and promote the livelihood of the people so they won’t experience hunger),” he said Thursday.

“Ito naman po ay sang-ayon din sa siyensiya. Yung mga negosyo at establishimento na pwedeng magbukas na hindi magiging superspreaders (This is based on science. The businesses and establishments that will be allowed to reopen are those who won’t be superspreaders),” he added.

Meanwhile, Roque explained that the IATF decided to extend the MECQ in the NCR-plus bubble area for only two weeks because the number of COVID-19 cases in the said area was already decreasing.

“Nakita naman natin na talagang bumabababa naman ang kaso dito po sa NCR (We see that the number of COVID-19 cases here in the NCR was already going down),” he said.

“Ibig sabihin ang attack rate ay nagdadahan-dahan, yung ating R0 (rate of infection) ay bumaba na to under 1 (This means the attack rate is slowing down and the R0 decreased to under 1),” he added.

Despite this, Roque stressed the need to augment the number of ICU beds in the NCR-plus bubble area.

“Gumagawa po ng hakbang ngayon ang DOH para maparamihan pa ang ating ICU beds (The Department of Health is looking for ways to increase our ICU beds),” he said.

“Hangga’t ‘di natin napaparami yung ICU beds natin eh baka masayang yung gains ng isang linggo ng travel bubble, dalawang linggo ng ECQ, at dalawang linggo ng MECQ (As long as we have not augmented our ICU beds, our gains from the one-week travel bubble, two-week ECQ, and two-week MECQ may go to waste),” he added.

On Wednesday, President Duterte approved the two-week extension of MECQ in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal.

The City of Santiago in Isabela, Quirino, and Abra are also under MECQ until May 31.

Quarantine classifications for May 2021