Metro Manila, 4 provinces to be placed under MECQ upon frontliners' call for tighter restrictions

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 2) — While President Rodrigo Duterte heeded the call of the medical community to tighten quarantine restrictions in certain areas, he did so only partly.

Only Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal will be placed under a stricter quarantine status, the President announced on Sunday.

Instead of reverting to the enhanced community quarantine, a more relaxed modified ECQ will be imposed in these areas from August 4 to 18, he added.

The President’s decision came after his meeting with key Cabinet officials to discuss the various concerns raised by members of the medical community.

Medical societies on Saturday called for a two-week enhanced community quarantine in Mega Manila, which — in addition to the country’s capital — also consists of Calabarzon, Central Luzon, and Mimaropa. The appeal was made following the national government’s July 31 decision to keep Metro Manila under a more relaxed general community quarantine, and nearby areas under either a GCQ or modified GCQ.

READ: ‘Pagod na pagod na kami’: Frontliners appeal for two-week ECQ in Mega Manila amid surge in coronavirus cases

In an August 1 letter, the medical community said the country’s healthcare system is already overwhelmed, and that frontliners are already “burned out.”

It recommended that the two-week “timeout” be used to address “healthcare workforce deficiency, failure of case finding and isolation, failure of contact tracing and quarantine, transportation safety, workplace safety public compliance.”

Under the MECQ, any person below 21 years old, those who are 60 and above, those with immunodeficiency, comorbidity, or other health risks, and pregnant women are required to remain in their residences, except when obtaining essential goods and services, as well as reporting to work.

The country’s COVID-19 tally hit past 103,000 on Sunday, with a record high increase in cases at over 5,000 more recorded.

Metro Manila accounted for 2,737 of these newly announced cases. Over the past two weeks, the region logged over 12,000 new cases — topping the list of regions nationwide, according to the Department of Health’s COVID-19 tracker.