The time is not yet right for NCR Plus to be placed under the least restrictive modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) status after June 15 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Monday.
Interviewed on Unang Balita, Roque said it is highly likely that NCR Plus — or Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal — will be placed under "ordinary" GCQ starting June 16.
NCR Plus is under GCQ "with restrictions" until June 15.
"Ang problema po natin mataas pa rin yung actual numbers, hindi pa tayo nakakabalik sa mga numero natin bago pumasok ang new variants [The problem is our numbers have yet to return to that level before the emergence of new coronavirus variants]," said Roque.
Before the detection of new coronavirus variants in the country, Metro Manila, according to Roque, was recording about 1,000 new COVID-19 cases daily. Even then, Metro Manila was never placed under MGCQ.
On Sunday, June 13, the Department of Health recorded 7,302 new COVID-19 infections, pushing the nationwide total tally to 1,315,639.
"So ang nakikita ko po ay ordinaryong GCQ pero sa tingin ko po mukang malabo pa yung MGCQ [So I'm seeing ordinary GCQ and not MGCQ]," Roque said.
Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), the government's policy-making body in addressing the pandemic, is set to meet on Monday to discuss the next quarantine classifications not only in NCR Plus but in other areas as well.
The recommendation will then be forwarded to President Rodrigo Duterte for approval.
Roque is also the spokesperson of the IATF.
Similar to Roque's forecast, Metro Manila's mayors are also looking into the possibility of placing the region under a "normal" GCQ starting June 16, according to a 24 Oras report on Sunday.
In a separate interview on Super Radyo dzBB on Monday, Dr. Guido David of OCTA Research reiterated its earlier statement that NCR Plus is not yet ready for MGCQ, but added that any easing of restrictions should be done gradually.
"Maaari tayong magluwag, pero tulad ng ginagawa na natin dati dapat ay dahan-dahan. Expand tayo ng capacity, dagdag ng businesses [We can ease restrictions but only gradually]," he said.
David noted that they have not monitored transmission of COVID-19 in businesses so far.
"Okay lang magluwag tayo ng restrictions sa businesses kasi may rstrictions naman sila na pinapatupad [It's okay to relax restrictions in businesses because they have their own restrictions]," he said.
In its latest report, OCTA said the average number of new COVID-19 cases in the Philippines decreased by 3% to 6,430 from June 4 to 11.
It also said that the reproduction number in the country was recorded at 1.02. A reproduction number of one or higher is an indication of the continuous transmission of the virus.
Meanwhile, 27% of the new cases in the country were from NCR Plus. —KBK, GMA News