President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday kept Metro Manila and nearby provinces under general community quarantine “with restrictions” until the end of June.
The capital region, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal — collectively known as NCR Plus — have been under GCQ with “heightened restrictions” since 15 May after more than a month of strict community quarantine.
The surrounding provinces of Batangas and Quezon, as well as Abra, Baguio City, Kalinga, Mountain Province in the Cordillera Administrative Region; and Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, and Quirino in Cagayan Valleywere likewise placed under the less restrictive form of GCQ until the end of the month.
The cities of Iligan in Lanao del Norte, and Davao in Davao Region, as well as Lanao del Sur and Cotabato City in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao would also remain under GCQ until 30 June.
Meanwhile, the provinces of Cagayan, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, and the entire Zamboanga Peninsula were placed under a more restrictive classification dubbed modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) until 15 June.
The cities of Santiago in Isabela, Puerto Princesa in Palawan, Iloilo in Iloilo Province, and Butuan in Agusan del Sur were likewise placed under MECQ for two weeks starting Tuesday.
Duterte said all other areas were placed under modified GCQ starting 1 June until the end of the month.
The stricter restrictions in NCR Plus, which accounts for 60 percent of the Philippines’ gross domestic product, were imposed by the government in an effort to restrict mobility amid a fresh surge in coronavirus infections.
Earlier in the day, Metro Manila mayors have proposed to keep the capital region’s under GCQ, but allow the reopening of more businesses this month.
“The Metro Manila Council has recommended keeping the region under GCQ with a little more opening of businesses,” said Parañaque City Mayor Edwin Olivarez, who chairs the Metro Manila Council.
“Although we know that cases and health care utilization rates have been decreasing, we can’t relax totally due to Covid-19,” Olivarez told radio station dzMM in an interview.
The Department of Health (DOH) said coronavirus infections in Metro Manila were now “plateauing,” although cases were on a downward trend.
The department also noted that the healthcare utilization rates in the capital region and surrounding provinces remain under moderate levels.
“What we need to do right now is to maintain that and eventually have it reduced to that safe zone that we are saying,” said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.
In Metro Manila, 53 percent of intensive care unit beds, 39 percent of isolation beds, 37 percent of ward beds, and 37 percent of ventilators were utilized, based on the latest health department’s data.
At the national level, 57 percent of ICU beds, 46 percent of isolation beds, 49 percent ward beds, and 38 percent of ventilators were no longer available.
The country has so far recorded 1.23 million coronavirus cases with nearly 21,000 fatalities.