MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte may announce the country's quarantine classifications for May by the middle of this week, Malacañang said on Monday.
Metro Manila and surrounding Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal provinces are under modified enhanced community quarantine, the second strictest lockdown level, until April 30.
Asked when the new classifications would be announced, Palace spokesman Harry Roque said, "Baka po si Presidente na ang mag-anunsyo dahil ang Talk to the People po ay sa Wednesday."
(The President might announce because his Talk to the People is on Wednesday.)
The inter-agency task force on COVID-19 is scheduled to meet on Tuesday to come up with quarantine recommendations, Roque said in a press briefing.
The NCR Plus area shifted to MECQ last April 12, after 2 weeks under the strictest quarantine level which authorities hope would arrest an uptick in new infections.
The area's current COVID-19 reproduction rate–the number of people that a patient with the respiratory disease is likely to infect–is now below 1, said Roque.
"Gumana po ang ating ECQ at MECQ... Pero ang kinakailangan nating masigurado, hindi masasayang ang gains," he said.
(Our ECQ and MECQ worked. But we need to ensure that the gains will not be wasted.)
The Philippines' total tally of COVID-19 cases will likely breach the 1 million mark later Monday.
The country started imposing lockdowns in March last year, over a month after logging its first confirmed COVID-19 case in a Chinese woman who arrived from Wuhan City, China where the disease is believed to have first emerged.
The restrictions, which resulted in businesses shutting down and people losing livelihood, led to the contraction of the national economy by 9.6 percent in 2020, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.
During the 2-week return of the NCR Plus to enhanced community quarantine until April 11, the economy suffered a P180-billion loss, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez had said.
"Kung tayo'y may GDP na mga P18 trillion, ito po ay... sa 1 percent ay P180 billion, ang estimate na nawala sa ating ekonomiya," he said last April 15.
(If we have a GDP of P18 trillion, 1 percent of this is P180 billion, our estimate of our economic loss.)
Metro Manila, home to about 12 million people, accounts for about a third of the country's GDP.