MANILA — The recommendation of mayors in Metro Manila for the region to remain under general community quarantine in February is a “correct judgment”, an official leading the country's COVID-19 response said on Wednesday.
Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr., National Task Force Against COVID-19 Chief Implementer, said the mayors considered the new, more contagious COVID-19 variant in their quarantine status proposal.
"Ang nakita natin na maganda sa Metro Manila mayors ay very candid in assessing the situation. And considering also the situation right now worldwide, it is not getting any better, and I think the most prudent thing is really to maintain iyong (the) business activities with much caution," Galvez, who is also the country's vaccine czar, said in a press briefing.
(The good thing we saw among Metro Manila mayors is they are very candid in assessing the situation.)
“That is a correct judgement and prudent enough. I really respect the comment and suggestion of many mayors that it is easier to ease up later if we are able to control the situation right now,” he added.
Meanwhile, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles declined to confirm if the inter-agency task force on COVID-19 recommended that Metro Manila should stay under GCQ, the third strictest of 4 lockdown levels in the country.
The IATF and mayors in Metro Manila will meet on Thursday so that President Rodrigo Duterte can finalize next month's quarantine levels, Nograles said.
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority General Manager Jojo Garcia confirmed there are suggestions to place Metro Manila under GCQ on Feb. 1-15.
But he said it will have to be approved by the IATF, and later, by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Metro Manila, which accounts for about a third of the country's gross domestic product, has been under GCQ since August 2020, with stricter lockdowns enforced in earlier months as COVID-19 infections rose.
The capital region is the first area in the country to be placed under quarantine status, that started March 15 last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Two days later, it was expanded to cover the entire Luzon island.
The Philippines has tallied 518,407 coronavirus infections, as of Wednesday. The unabated first wave of infections has prevented the economy from fully reopening.
Authorities are racing to contain at least 3 clusters of a new, more contagious COVID-19 variant.
The country logged its first confirmed coronavirus infection on Jan. 30 last year in a Chinese woman who arrived from Wuhan City, China where the disease is believed to have first emerged in late 2019.