MANILA - Quarantine restrictions in Metro Manila can be eased further as COVID-19 cases in the capital region decline, independent research group OCTA said Sunday.
Metro Manila and nearby provinces Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal, or the NCR Plus, may shift to a looser general community quarantine status (GCQ) this week, as COVID-19 figures in the area improve, Malacañang earlier said.
The capital region now contributes only 27 percent of COVID-19 cases in the country's daily tally from 97 percent during its peak between March 29 to April 4, OCTA Research Group fellow Guido David said.
Virus reproduction rate, or the number of people affected by a virus patient, in Metro Manila is at 0.72, while the positivity rate is "down to 8 percent" and hospitalization rate is at a "safe level" of 40 percent, he added.
"Sinusupport natin yan because at this time, gumaganda naman ang situation sa NCR (National Capital Region)... We can take some risks na pagbubukas ng businesses. So far, wala pa naman tayong nakikita community transmission sa businesses," David told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
(We support this because at this time, the situation in NCR is getting better... We can take some risks in opening businesses. So far, we have not seen community transmission in establishments.)
"There will always be risks. Ang iniiwasan natin is more of congregations na malalaki (What we're avoiding is big congregations)."
GCQ is the second in a four-level quarantine classification the government has been imposing since the pandemic started early last year.
The NCR Plus, home to some 24 million people, is under GCQ with additional restrictions until June 15.
The COVID-19 situation in Davao City and Cagayan de Oro City is "improving" but should still be monitored, David said.
"Ang pinakamaraming cases per day ngayon ay sa Davao City, pero pababa na rin siya. 'Di masasabing clear downward trend," he said.
(Davao City has the most cases per day but it's decreasing. It's not yet clear if it's on a downward trend.)
Government should also look into easing some restrictions as more people become inoculated against COVID-19, including allowing vaccinated tourists to enter the country, Guido said.
"It’s a good topic for discussion... I think it’s fair na magpapasok tayo ng (to allow) vaccinated people (to enter). Napaka-low ng incidents ng transmission ng ibang vaccinated people, depende sa country of origin," he said.
(Incidents of transmission among vaccinated people is very low, depending on their country of origin.)
"Dapat ngayon pa lang, nag-iisip na tayo ng exit strategies natin from the pandemic. A transition to maybe the old normal or new normal pa rin, pero less restrictions as we vaccinate more people, kasi mahalaga yan."
(As early as now, we should be thinking of exit strategies from the pandemic. A transition to maybe the old normal or new normal but with less restrictions as we vaccinate more people, because it's important.)
The Philippines aims to vaccinate 500,000 daily in Metro Manila and 8 other key economic hubs to achieve "population protection" by November 27, vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said.
Some 1.681 million Filipinos have received their second dose of COVID-19 vaccines as 6.31 million doses have been administered in total as of June 8, government said.