There is a good chance that Metro Manila and four nearby areas (NCR Plus) may shift to less strict general community quarantine (GCQ) status by May 14 following improvements in the country’s healthcare utilization rates, Malacañang said on Monday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said it is “possible” for NCR Plus, which also includes the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal, to ease to a laxer quarantine status because its healthcare utilization rate has been downgraded to “moderate risk”.
“I will not second guess the IATF [Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases]. But pursuant to the formula, it is possible. Again, the final decision rests with the IATF,” he said in a press briefing from Davao City.
Despite the possibility of easing NCR Plus’ quarantine status, Roque said borders will remain closed to prevent the spread of new strains of coronavirus.
“Kahit anong classification ang irekomenda ng IATF, hindi pa po tayo magbubukas ng ating borders. Bawal pa rin po ang turismo (Whatever classification is recommended by the IATF, we will not open our borders. Tourism will still be prohibited),” he added.
Currently, foreigners, except diplomats and healthcare workers, are still barred from entering the Philippines.
Foreign parents, spouses, and children of Filipinos may enter the country, provided they are traveling with the Filipino principal, and have a valid entry visa.
The Philippines has barred travelers from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka until May 14 to curb the spread of a reported “double mutant” coronavirus strain found in India.
The variant is known as B.1.617 and has two unusual mutations: E484Q and L425R.
“As far as our borders are concerned, I think worldwide ang (the) phenomena is to continue with the travel ban dahil nga dito sa double variants na nanggagaling nga sa India (because of these double variants from India),” he said.
Meanwhile, he emphasized the need to prioritize the country’s “total health” in deciding on the next quarantine classifications.
“Ang importante po makamit natin ang total health, kasi kung ang iiwasan lang natin ay yung mga magkakasakit sa Covid o mamatay sa Covid, mas marami po kasi ang posibleng maghirap dahil sa kahirapan habang nakasarado ang ekonomiya (What is important is that we achieve total health, because if we only prevent people from contracting Covid, there is a possibility that more Filipinos will suffer because of poverty while the economy remains closed),” he said.
Don’t imitate India
Meanwhile, Roque warned Filipinos against breaching quarantine protocols after a Caloocan City resort was recently closed for violating quarantine rules.
“Kung nais natin maiwasan yung disaster na nangyari sa India, e huwag po natin gayahin (If we want to prevent the disaster that happened in India from happening here, let’s not imitate them),” he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to announce the next quarantine classifications this week.
However, the IATF-EID has yet to meet to present its final recommendations of quarantine classifications.
On Monday, health authorities recorded 8,193 new recovered cases, bringing the total recoveries to 1,030,367.
The country’s active Covid-19 cases went down to 59,897 despite 6,846 new reported infections while the death toll reached 18,562 after logging 90 new deaths. (PNA)