MANILA— Placing Metro Manila under the strictest of the four community quarantine classifications is meant to delay the spread of COVID-19 and its virulent strain, the Delta variant, a health official said Saturday.
“We can delay the spread and we can be able to better prepare,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said.
Vergeire said that the Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19 made its decision to impose the enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila based on projections on possible scenarios in the coming weeks.
But Vergeire said the rise in COVID-19 cases in the capital region is not yet considered a surge.
“Hindi pa natin nakikita ang large increase sa ngayon pero nakikita natin unti-unti nang tumataas ang mga kaso. It’s kind of anticipatory because of the projections na in a couple of weeks may ganitong numero na ipinakita ang ating eksperto na maaring mangyari kaya ating gusto nang isara to delay the spread,” she said.
(We have yet to see a large increase in cases but so far we're seeing a steady rise in the cases. It’s kind of anticipatory because of the projections that in a couple of weeks there is this number that was shown to us by experts which might happen so we want to have a lockdown to delay the spread.)
ECQ will be imposed in Metro Manila from August 6 to 20. In the meantime, the National Capital Region will be under general community quarantine with heightened and additional restrictions from July 30 to Aug. 5.
“When we talked about community quarantine classification sa IATF kinokonsidera natin ang economic sector at kinokonsidera natin 'yung preparations ng mga tao. Ang mga taga-IATF nagdesisyon na mabuti, merong heightened restrictions ngayon pagkatapos saka tayo mag-shift sa ECQ,” she said.
(When we talked about community quarantine classification in the IATF, we consider the economic sector and the preparations of the public. The IATF decided that it’s better to have heightened restrictions now and then shift to ECQ.)
Vergeire said the spread of the virus is not only due to the Delta variant as other strains of COVID-19 like the Alpha and Beta are also present in the country.
“Andyan na rin factors ng mobility saka compliance sa safety protocols both sa community at workplaces,” she said.
(Factors such as mobility and compliance to safety protocols in both the community and at the workplace are also there.)
So far, the Philippines has reported 216 cases of the Delta variant.
However, Vergeire said there is not enough evidence to say that the driving force behind the increase is the Delta variant.
“Although nakakita na tayo ng 200 plus na cases but it's still not enough for us to say. It's an assumption for now,” she said.
(Although we detected 200 plus cases but it's still not enough for us to say. It’s an assumption for now.)
She added that hospitals have expanded capacity to cater to COVID-19 patients. But they have observed that some hospitals are already on high risk. They also noted pending admissions in emergency rooms in some hospitals in Metro Manila.
She said they are mobilizing all hospitals in Metro Manila to better prepare.