MANILA - Metro Manila appears "ready" to loosen its coronavirus lockdown after its 2-week return to the second strictest quarantine level, an official leading the country’s pandemic response said Monday.
Coronavirus infections are “going down”, with around 3,000 new cases reported Sunday, compared to the 6,000 daily hike in recent days, said Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
He answered in the affirmative when asked if Metro Manila, home to 12 million people, can downgrade to a general community quarantine or GCQ that would reopen the economy.
"I think we are ready to go down," Lorenzana, chairman of the National Task Force Against COVID-19, told ANC.
“We cannot continue with the MECQ kasi nga alam na natin kung nasaan iyong areas na may infection. Iyon ang tutukan natin so that the others can go to work,” he added.
(We already know the areas with infection. We will focus on those.)
Metro Manila and 4 surrounding provinces were placed under MECQ or modified community quarantine until Aug. 18 after exhausted health workers appealed for a "timeout" as swamped hospitals turned patients away.
Authorities will identify villages or streets with COVID-19 outbreaks that need to be locked down, instead of shuttering entire cities, said Lorenzana.
"Hindi puwedeng lockdown na lang tayo nang lockdown dahil baka mas maraming mamatay sa gutom kaysa sa COVID kung walang trabaho ang mga tao," he said.
(We cannot keep going back under lockdowns because more people could die of hunger than of COVID if they are jobless.)
Authorities are consulting local officials on increasing COVID-19 cases and flagging down protocol breaches in workplaces, Lorenzana said.