February 18, 2021
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 18) — Despite several warnings from health experts, Metro Manila could shift to the most relaxed form of community quarantine by March now that mayors have agreed to the proposal of economic leaders.
Navotas Mayor Toby Tiangco on Thurday said the 17 mayors were split during their voting, but those in favor won by one vote, 9-8, for the National Capital Region to shift from general community quarantine to modified GCQ.
The breakdown of Wednesday's votes was not revealed, but Tiangco said he voted against the easing of restrictions.
The National Economic and Development Authority recommended to President Rodrigo Duterte to place the entire country under MGCQ next month. The different levels of quarantine classification enforced per area depend on their COVID-19 cases and the capability of health facilities to tend to patients. Duterte has yet to announce the quarantine status for March.
The proposal of acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua on Monday was quickly met with warnings from the OCTA Research group. It said it will be dangerous since COVID-19 and UK variant cases are increasing in some parts of the country. OCTA fellow Ranjit Rye also pointed out that the country has not yet even started vaccinating medical frontliners.
OCTA also warned that if Metro Manila moves to MGCQ, it will lead to a surge of up to 2,400 new cases per day by March 26, similar to the daily tally when the region was placed under modified enhanced community quarantine in August 2020 due to dwindling healthcare utilization.
Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, World Health Organization representative to the Philippines, said the cases in Metro Manila have not flattened yet so it is best to keep restrictions in place.
"We still need to be conscious that there is a relatively high level of transmission in the community," he said in a media briefing.
Although Metro Manila is recording a negative growth rate, eight out of 17 cities are showing increased cases, according to the Health Department.
Benhur Abalos, chairman of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and who attended the meeting of the mayors, said the local chief executives agreed to ease to MGCQ. However, he said the mayors kept their stance against further lowering of the ages allowed to leave their homes. He said those under 15 and over 65 are still prohibited from going out for leisure.
NEDA also recommended to allow people aged five to 70 to go out for non-essential trips, increase public transportation operations from 50% to 70%, and resume pilot face-to-face classes in low-risk areas. Chua said the country needs to recover from huge economic losses.
By CNN Philippines Staff
Source: CNN Philippines