Should NCR Plus shift to regular GCQ? DOH says COVID-19 situation ‘fragile’

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 14) — After a Palace official floated that a "regular" general community quarantine over the NCR Plus bubble is likely by the second half of June, the Department of Health on Monday warned that the COVID-19 situation is worsening in areas surrounding the bubble, putting it at risk of surges once again.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the healthcare utilization in Metro Manila is now at a safe zone after recovering from the surge a few weeks ago.

The OCTA Research Group earlier said the daily average number of new cases in the capital region decreased by 17% to 926 on June 4 to 10.

But Vergeire said the encouraging developments in Metro Manila and nearby provinces can easily go back to experiencing surges if restrictions are lifted hastily.

"The situation is very fragile, anytime baka bumalik tayo sa ganyang pagtaas ng kaso kung hindi tayo lahat mag-iingat, kailangan lahat dahan-dahan," she said in a media briefing.

[Translation: The situation is very fragile, anytime we can go back to high cases if we are not cautious. Everything needs to be done gradually.]

The "GCQ with restrictions" over Metro Manila, Rizal, Bulacan, Cavite, and Laguna — collectively known as NCR Plus — will expire on Tuesday.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said a "regular" GCQ is possible for June 16 onwards due to the improving situation in the bubble.

Under the regular GCQ, leisure activities such as cinemas and game arcades are allowed to resume.

"We will prioritize the essential services first bago tayo makapagbukas ng ibang non-essential [before we can open the non-essential]," Vergeire added.

Dr. Maricar Limpin, vice president of the Philippine College of Physicians, on Sunday suggested to maintain the current status of GCQ with restrictions in NCR Plus.

She also recommended tightening border controls in the bubble since persons coming from these areas could be possible carriers of COVID-19 infections.