President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the implementation of a modified enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Metro Manila, Laguna and Cebu City that continue to be considered “high-risk” in the spread of COVID-19.
The modified ECQ will run from May 16 to 31, according to presidential spokesperson Harry Roque in his regular press briefing on Tuesday.
At a briefing with Cabinet officials aired earlier in the day, Duterte said the threat of the virus still exists.
"The easing up of the restrictions, hindi ‘yan sabihin na wala na ang COVID. Just because we allowed certain people, dahan-dahan lang para hindi tayo madapa. We cannot afford a second or third wave na mangyari," he said.
"COVID is very lethal," Duterte added.
ECQ vs. modified ECQ
According to the government, the difference between ECQ and modified ECQ are as follows:
- no movement regardless of age and health status
- minimal economic activity except for utility services such as food, power and water and the critical economic sector
- no transportation activity except for utility services
- suspension of physical classes
- limited movement within containment zone for obtaining essential services and work
- operation of selected manufacturing and processing plants up to maximum of 50% workforce
- limited transporting services for essential goods and services
- suspension of physical classes
Meanwhile, regions that will be under general community quarantine (GCQ) after May 15 are those which are considered under moderate risk. They are:
a. Region II
b. Region III
c. Region IV-A except Laguna
e. Region VII except Cebu City
f. Region IX
g. Region XI
h. Region XIII (CARAGA)
Regions that are considered low-risk and which will be under neither GCQ nor ECQ are:
a. Region I
b. Region IV-B
c. Region V
d. Region VI
e Region VIII
f. Region X
g. Region XII
Roque said provinces, highly urbanized cities and independent component cities may appeal their classification to the IATF not later than Wednesday.
The IATF said placing Metro Manila, Laguna and Cebu City under modified ECQ was "without prejudice to the declaration of localized enhanced community quarantine in critical areas."
Critical areas refer to places where more than 20 cases per 100,000 inhabitants have been recorded in the past 30 days, Roque said. Areas under modified ECQ are part of the containment zone (between 1 and 19 cases per 100,000 people).
Buffer zone includes areas without cases but contiguous with localities with cases. Places outside of the buffer zone have no confirmed cases.
Duterte made the decision following his meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, the government’s highest policymaking body on COVID-19 response.
The ECQ was previously extended until May 15 in Metro Manila, Central Luzon (except Aurora), CALABARZON, Pangasinan, Benguet, Albay, Bacolod City, Iloilo province, Iloilo City, Cebu City, Cebu province, Zamboanga City and Davao City.
The rest of the country had been placed under the less strict general community quarantine.
Last Saturday, the Metro Manila mayors said they would recommend to the IATF three scenarios after the second extension of the ECQ ends on May 15.
The first recommendation was the extension of the ECQ for up to two weeks, or until the end of May.
The second recommendation was for the government to move Metro Manila from ECQ to a general community quarantine (GCQ) while the third option was a modified combination of an ECQ and a GCQ.
Roque earlier said the COVID-19 transmission rate, capacity of the healthcare system and the economy will aid the government in deciding whether to ease restrictions in some areas in Metro Manila, where the majority of the infections in the country were recorded.
He also warned that the threat of the virus still exists even if an area is under GCQ.
“Kaya kinakailangan pong mag-ingat tayo dahil ang ibig sabihin lang ng pagbaba ng ECQ sa GCQ – mayroon pa rin pong banta hindi lang ganoon katindi – pero kapag binaba po sa GCQ, iyan po ay critical pa rin ang ating sitwasyon,” Roque said in a televised briefing on Monday.
“Hindi na po tayo pupuwedeng bumalik sa normal na bago dumating ang COVID-19 habang walang bakuna, habang walang gamot sa COVID-19. Kung tayo po ay magpipilit na magbubulag-bulagan sa COVID-19 ay baka ang kapalit po niyan ay ang ating mga buhay.”
The Philippines has so far recorded 11,086 COVID-19 cases, with 1,999 recoveries and 726 deaths, according to government data. -NB/KBK/RSJ, GMA News