Metro Manila retains GCQ status until year-end

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 30) — Metro Manila residents will be celebrating the Christmas season under general community quarantine, which has been extended anew until Dec. 31.

President Rodrigo Duterte made the announcement in an address to the nation on Monday, after meeting with officials leading the national COVID-19 response.

The country's capital region has been under GCQ for nearly half a year since June 1, except for the two-week return to a stricter modified enhanced community quarantine in August when the Philippines hit its peak in cases at over 6,000 new infections logged in a day.

Duterte also placed Batangas, Iloilo City, Tacloban City, Lanao del Sur, Iligan, Davao City, and Davao del Norte under GCQ from Dec. 1 to 31.

The rest of the country will be under the more relaxed modified GCQ.

The mayors of Metro Manila favored the extension of the existing quarantine classification over the region, especially as more Filipinos are expected to join gatherings this holiday season.

The independent research group OCTA, which has been monitoring the pandemic in the country, also recommended retaining the GCQ status in the capital. The researchers said the government cannot let its guard down, noting that a renewed wave of cases is possible if restrictions are prematurely eased.

"It's very possible na kung magkaroon ng increase, 'yung 400 cases per day natin (in Metro Manila) pwedeng maging 800 or 1,000 cases per day by the end of December," said Professor Guido David of OCTA on Sunday.

[Translation: It's very possible that if there would be an increase, the 400 cases a day (logged in Metro Manila) may become 800 or 1,000 by the end of December.]

Earlier, the country's coronavirus task force announced a traditional caroling ban this Christmas as a preventive measure against increased viral transmission. It also urged the public to limit the number of attendees in holiday celebrations.

READ: Health experts: Defer travel plans, limit Christmas gatherings to household members

Meanwhile, the Department of Health said it is creating a contingency plan that will outline the responsibilities of concerned national and local officials once a post-holiday season surge occurs.

To date, Metro Manila has tallied around 198,000 cases of the viral disease. This accounts for 45 percent of the national case count, which has climbed to 431,630. Of the total infected in the country, 398,658 already recovered while 8,392 died, according to the DOH data.

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