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NCR quarantine status can still change, says Duque

Metro Manila's quarantine status, general community quarantine (GCQ) with heightened restrictions, may still change depending on the appeal made by concerned local governments, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Thursday.

“That can change,” Duque told CNN Philippines when asked on whether the Thursday meeting between Metro Manila mayors and the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases could affect the capital region’s risk classification.

“As what happens, usually, is the LGUs after they have been put in a certain risk classification… some of them, they file their appeal to the IATF and then the IATF looks at and reviews the metrics,” he explained.

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chief Benhur Abalos said mayors in the capital region would push for stricter quarantine measures in their meeting with the IATF due to the threat of the Delta variant. 

Metro Manila mayors earlier expressed willingness to undergo a two-week enhanced community quarantine, the strictest lockdown classification, if the national government can provide cash aid and four million additional COVID-19 vaccine doses. 

“Locking down is easy but you need to identify the social amelioration funds, for example,” Duque said. “We are getting more data, more information as to, for example, the availability of social amelioration budget.”

The health chief also said authorities are “taking stock” of COVID-19 vaccine doses to see whether more can be deployed to Metro Manila.

“We are going to make our computation and hopefully we’ll be able to reallocate [a] bigger percentage of vaccines to NCR where the Delta variant can rapidly, potentially spread,” he said.

Duque said that if the quarantine status of Metro Manila does change, the updated risk classification may possibly be in effect from August 1 to 7 or 15.

Currently, Metro Manila is under GCQ with heightened restrictions. The classification was extended until August 15

The Philippines has so far recorded 119 cases of the highly contagious Delta variant. —KBK, GMA News