Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 29) — Metro Manila will extend its general community quarantine status anew for the entire month of February, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque announced on Friday.
The Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) will also be placed under GCQ as most of the UK variant cases in the country are recorded in the northern region.
Batangas, Tacloban City, Davao City, Davao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, and Iligan City will also be under GCQ — the third most stringent quarantine classification in the country — from Feb. 1 to Feb. 28.
The National Capital Region has been under GCQ since June 2020, excluding its return to a stricter modified enhanced community quarantine or MECQ during the first half of August. According to data from the Department of Health, Metro Manila has tallied some 220,000 cases or around 42% of the country's total. In its Jan. 25 report, the independent research group OCTA said the trend in the new coronavirus cases in the region has "leveled off," after briefly rising around the second week of the month.
CAR, meawhile, accounts for 13 of the country's 17 confirmed cases of the more transmissible COVID-19 variant first recorded in the United Kingdom. Bontoc has 12 variant cases, while Benguet has one. Experts said preliminary studies show the new variant spreads more quickly, but there is not enough evidence yet to establish it is more fatal.
The rest of the country will be under modified GCQ, the lowest form of community quarantine. On Monday night, the President reversed the IATF's earlier decision to allow children aged 10 to 14 to go out of their homes in MGCQ areas starting February.
OCTA Research Fellow Guido David said he agrees with the decision of the national government to retain GCQ status in Metro Manila and impose it on northern provinces. He noted that Metro Manila's COVID-19 trend is "more or less flat" with 400 cases per day — a number that is not expected to increase or decrease soon. However, he advised to keep the situation manageable until the vaccine arrives.
"Kung may [If there is a] surge while we have the vaccine, madedelay 'yung rollout nila [rollout will be delayed] if our health system is compromised and our doctors are overwhelmed," he told CNN Philippines' News.PH. "Right now we are not seeing an increase in Metro Manila (cases) and most other places."
The DOH said last year that it targets to have the entire nation shift to MGCQ by the first quarter of 2021.
The country confirmed its first COVID-19 case on Jan. 30, 2020 — a 38-year-old female Chinese national who traveled from Wuhan, where the virus is said to have originated. Since then, the country's case tally has risen to 519,575, with 10,552 fatalities and 475,596 recoveries.
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