Metro Manila and other areas under general community quarantine may unlikely shift into a more relaxed lockdown status due to the sudden uptick of coronavirus infections in the provinces, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Saturday.
Duque said the imposition of modified GCQ in the capital region, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal — collectively known as NCR Plus — was not among the options considered by the pandemic task force on the quarantine classification to be implemented in June.
“We cannot go into modified GCQ. We will still discuss our final recommendation on Monday before we recommend it to the President during the talk to the people program,” he told radio station dzBB.
Duque said Metro Manila’s daily attack rate, which is among the measurements used by the task force in determining lockdown classifications, remained at seven to eight or higher than the ideal one to seven cases per 100,000 population.
President Rodrigo Duterte will “most likely” announce on Monday the new quarantine classifications of regions and provinces for the entire month of June, his spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque told the Daily Tribune in a text message.
In a separate radio interview, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles also said Duterte would declare the new lockdown status of areas across the country on 31 May, the last day of the existing quarantine classifications.
“We gave governors and local chief executives the opportunity to appeal these recommended community quarantine classifications,” Nograles said.
NCR Plus, which accounts for 60 percent of the Philippines’ gross domestic product, was placed under GCQ with “heightened restrictions” from 15 May until the end of the month in an effort to restrict mobility amid a fresh surge in coronavirus infections.
In recent days, however, researchers monitoring pandemic figures noted that Covid-19 cases have been increasing outside NCR Plus, especially in Calabarzon, Central Luzon, and Northern Mindanao.
Earlier this month, independent OCTA Reseach tagged the cities of Cagayan de Oro, Puerto Princesa in Palawan, and Bacolod in Negros Occidental as “areas of concern” because of the continuing increase in Covid-19 cases that, according to local data, ballooned to over 400 percent.
Duque attributed the upsurge of Covid-19 cases to the continuous coronavirus transmission.
The health secretary added that the number of infections would increase if the public would be complacent and ignore health protocols against Covid-19.
The Philippines has so far reported 1.21 million coronavirus infections with over 20,000 fatalities.