MANILA — The Philippines is ready should coronavirus infections surge if President Rodrigo Duterte approves a call of his aides to ease quarantine levels across the country, Malacañang said on Monday.
As Duterte studies a proposal for modified general community quarantine, the loosest of 4 lockdown levels, about 62 percent of hospital beds remain ready to take in patients with COVID-19, said Palace spokesman Harry Roque.
"Totoo po, pupuwedeng tumaas ang kaso, pero ang katotohanan din, handa naman po tayo," he told reporters in an online briefing.
(It's true that cases may spike, but it is also true that we are ready.)
He said not all cases of COVID-19 would cause severe symptoms.
"Iyan ang ating titimbangin doon sa mga numero nang nagugutom na dahil marami pang sektor ng ekonomiya na sarado," Roque said.
(We are weighing that against the number of those who are starving because many sectors of the economy remain closed.)
Metro Manila, the Cordilleras and 6 other areas are under GCQ this February. Mayors of the capital region and the task force leading the country's COVID-19 response have agreed on easing quarantine curbs in March, Roque said last week.
However, the OCTA Research Group warned that if Metro Manila is under MGCQ and hit by the same variant that affected Cebu City, it would take just 36 days for the region to return to its COVID-19 situation back in August, when an average of 2,400 cases were reported per day.
Vice President Leni Robredo over the weekend questioned the basis for the MGCQ proposal.
"Ano iyong basis ng MGCQ? Kasi wala namang problema mag-MGCQ kung may basehan tayo roon. Pero kapag tiningnan kasi natin iyong numero, ang taas ng transmission. Ang taas pa ng transmission, wala pa iyong bakuna," she said.
(What's the basis in implementing MGCQ? There's no problem if there's basis. But if we look at the numbers, virus transmission is high. It's high and we don't have a vaccine yet.)
"Dapat sana lahat na energies natin nandoon sa pag-control ng transmission at saka pag-provide ng bakuna, hindi na sa kung ano-ano pa. Dapat i-sentro na lahat doon kasi iyon iyong pinakamahalaga ngayon."
(We should put our energy in controlling virus transmission and providing vaccine, not anything else. We should focus on those because those are the most important.)