ECQ extended in Metro Manila, 4 provinces for at least one more week

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 3) — Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal will remain under the strictest community quarantine status as COVID-19 cases continued to spike, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque announced on Saturday.

The Greater Manila Area will go on enhanced community quarantine for another week after the Department of Health, some mayors, and the independent OCTA Research group endorsed the extension of the lockdown to contain the pandemic. The so-called National Capital Region Plus was earlier placed in a bubble to tackle the surge in infections at a speed never seen before.

LIST: One-week ECQ in Greater Manila area explained

"Nagrekomenda po ang inyong IATF na pahabain pa ang enhanced community quarantine ng minimum isa pang linggo sa buong Metro Manila, at mga probinsya ng Laguna, Bulacan, Cavite, at Rizal," Roque said in a short virtual briefing, after a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force.

[Translation: Your IATF recommended that we extend the enhanced community quarantine by a minimum of one week in the entire Metro Manila, and in the provinces of Laguna, Bulacan, Cavite, and Rizal.]

The recommendation has been approved by President Rodrigo Duterte, Roque later told reporters.

During this ECQ period, Roque said the government plans to intensify its PDITR or Prevent, Detect, Isolate, Treat, and Reintegrate strategy, which involves visiting residents in their homes to check who has symptoms, and testing as well as isolating them. Roque added local government units and the czars (heads of efforts in contact tracing, treatment, vaccine, etc.) should be monitoring the developments from using this strategy.

If the strategy is seen to be effective, the Greater Manila area could then return to a more relaxed MECQ or modified enhanced community quarantine, Roque said.

Amid the fast-depleting number of available hospital beds for COVID-19 patients, Roque said more beds for moderate to severe cases will be added during ECQ.

"Dito sa linggo ng karagdagang ECQ ay meron tayong 110 additional na moderate to severe beds na bubuksan na po at magiging operational dito sa Quezon Institute," he said. "Sa susunod na buwan hindi po bababa 'yan sa 160 additional moderate to severe bed capacity."

[Translation: During this extended ECQ, we will open 110 additional beds for moderate to severe cases in the Quezon Institute. In the next month, there will be at least 160 additional moderate to severe beds.]

The Quezon Institute is a hospital in Quezon City that also has an off-site modular hospital catering to moderate COVID-19 patients.

What health experts said

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said a week of lockdown "is really not enough" to bring down the number of infections and decongest hospitals. She said this prompted the DOH to recommend the extension to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, the policy-making body in the government’s pandemic response.

OCTA Research experts also backed tighter restrictions for the Metro Manila and nearby provinces to arrest the spread of the coronavirus.

Roque had said extending the ECQ is an "absolute last resort" for the government.

Over the past weeks, the country has been setting new record highs in the number of additional infections and active COVID-19 cases, forcing the government to revert to a week-long ECQ status within NCR Plus from March 29 to April 4.

On Friday, the country logged 15,310 more infections, which include a backlog of 3,709 cases from March 31. Still, the 11,601 confirmed cases that day became the biggest single-day increase in infections, but it was quickly overtaken by the 12,576 new COVID-19 cases reported on Saturday.

The number of active COVID-19 cases, or those who are still battling the disease is also at a record-high at 165,715.