MANILA — Malacañang said on Tuesday it hoped Metro Manila's upcoming return to the strictest quarantine level would "be our last ever lockdown."
Authorities were "guided by science" in placing the capital region's 13 million people under enhanced community quarantine from Aug. 6 to 20, said Palace spokesman Harry Roque.
The ECQ will start before cases are expected to spike by Aug. 15, he said in a press briefing.
"Hindi po tayo (we are not) reactive," said the Palace official.
"Ang gusto lang po natin, we hope that this will be our last ever lockdown. Bakit po? Kasi tumataas na iyong numero ng ating pagbabakuna," he said.
(All we want, we hope that this will be our last ever lockdown. Why? Because the vaccination figures are rising.)
Vaccinated individuals no longer suffer from serious COVID-19 symptoms or die, Roque said, citing the experience of Israel and the United States.
"From now on po, kung ma-achieve natin ang population protection, it’s the number of critical and serious cases that will matter, and the death rates dahil kapag bakunado na po, COVID-19 can become an ordinary cold," said the Malacañang spokesman.
(If we achieve population protection, it’s the number of critical and serious cases that will matter, and the death rates, because if we are vaccinated, COVID-19 can become an ordinary cold.)
"Hindi po siya reactive; we had foresight, we were guided by science and we are preparing for what we hope to be our last ever lockdown. Pero nakasalalay po iyan doon sa pagbabakuna natin ng ating mga kababayan," he continued.
(It was not reactive; we had foresight, we were guided by science and we are preparing for what we hope to be our last ever lockdown. But this depends on our vaccination of our compatriots.)
A surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the Delta variant has been rattling parts of Asia, including countries which had been relatively successful at containing the virus.
Just 200 cases of the Delta variant had been detected in the community, of which 17 were still active, Philippines' Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said, although genome testing capacity in the Southeast Asian country is limited.
Infections in the Philippines exceeded 8,000 a day from Friday to Monday. Sunday's recorded tally of 8,735 infections was the highest since May 28.
Strict quarantine curbs could help cap the number of active COVID-19 cases to around 25,000 by the end of September, Roque had said.
In a weekly national address, President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday committed to providing vaccines to every Filipino.
"It's just a matter of priority on hot spots like Manila. People are here so transmission is faster."
Some 9.3 million individuals have been fully vaccinated as of Aug. 2, and around 11.8 million have received one dose, Roque said. The government aims to inoculate 58 to 70 million in the country to achieve herd immunity and safely reopen the economy.
— With reports from Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News; Reuters