Metro Manila nearly stumbled back to MECQ status – Palace
MANILA, Philippines — Metro Manila, which remains to be the epicenter of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak in the country, was almost placed back under the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) status to curtail the further spread of the disease, Malacañang said Thursday.
On Wednesday night, President Duterte opted to maintain the general community quarantine (GCQ) over the National Capital Region (NCR) until July 31.
NCR has been under GCQ for the last six weeks.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, however, bared that Duterte actually heeded the recommendation of experts from the University of the Philippines (UP) to place Metro Manila back under MECQ.
Roque said Duterte changed his mind after COVID-19 response Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez, Jr. and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año “passionately” argued to keep Metro Manila under GCQ and give its mayors a chance to improve on implementing quarantine protocols.
“Basically they were saying, ‘give the Metro Manila mayors the opportunity to show exactly what they can do by way of localized lockdowns and by way of achieving behavioral change so that their constituents will actually practice the holy trinity of (wearing face) masks, washing of hands, and social distancing’,” Roque said in an interview on CNN Philippines’ The Source.
Roque likewise noted that the two officials cited that “majority of our GDP still comes from Metro Manila and at this point, it was important that we open up the economy.”
He added that the UP experts, led by UP Professor Ranjit Rye, also agreed with Galvez and Año as it was one of their three recommendations to the President—maintain GCQ but strictly enforce quarantine rules.
Despite keeping Metro Manila under GCQ, the Palace official said Duterte made it clear that he will not hesitate to impose stricter lockdown measures if the situation in the metropolis will not show any sign of improvements in the next two weeks.
To date, there are 58,850 COVID-19 cases nationwide, with nearly nearly half or 29,015 of the cases reported in Metro Manila.
Meanwhile, 20,976 patients have so far recovered while 1,614 others have died.
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