Regular GCQ in NCR Plus likely by mid-June, says Roque

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 11) — The community quarantine restrictions over Metro Manila and four nearby provinces may be eased by mid-June, according to an official from the country's pandemic response task force.

Inter-Agency Task Force spokesperson Harry Roque said that from the current general community quarantine with restrictions, the classification could de-escalate to the regular GCQ based on improving COVID-19 numbers.

"It might not be to MGCQ, but it could be to ordinary GCQ because ang GCQ po natin ngayon ay mayroon pang mga restrictions [the GCQ now has restrictions]," he said in a briefing on Thursday.

Roque, who is also presidential spokesperson, pointed out that the hospital care utilization rate in Metro Manila, Rizal, Bulacan, Cavite, and Laguna remains low, stressing that this is an important factor in determining quarantine classifications.

The independent OCTA Research group said the COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila are on a downward trend.

On Friday, it said the daily average number of new cases in the capital region decreased by 17% to 926 on June 4 to 10.

However, Philippine College of Physicians Vice President Dr. Maricar Limpin said on Sunday she wanted to maintain the current heightened GCQ status in NCR and four nearby provinces.

Limpin noted they observed an increasing trend of severe and critical COVID-19 cases admitted in Metro Manila hospitals. She added that relaxing protocols may cause the hospital capacity in NCR to get overwhelmed again.

"Hinay-hinay tayo sa pag-loosen up ng mga quarantine restrictions. Mas mahirap na bumalik tayo sa total lockdown. Maintain natin kung anong community quarantine na meron tayo," Limpin told CNN Philippines' Newsroom Weekend.

[Translation: We should be careful in loosening up quarantine restrictions. It would be harder for us to return to a total lockdown. Maintain the community quarantine level that we have now.]

Limpin also recommended tightening border controls in Metro Manila and four nearby provinces, since persons coming from these areas could be possible sources of COVID-19 infections.

The IATF is expected to issue a recommendation before June 16 to President Rodrigo Duterte, who will have the final say.