MANILA — “Granular lockdowns” limited to streets or barangays would serve as a “safeguard” for Metro Manila and nearby provinces if their return to the second strictest lockdown level ends next week as scheduled, the Department of Health (DOH) said Thursday.
Economic managers have warned that if the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) is extended beyond Aug. 18, “a lot of the people would suffer from hunger already and other diseases would also be evident,” said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.
“We have to balance when we try to decide,” she told ANC. “Our safeguard if and when, the government will decide that we will be easing out on these restrictions, would be these granular lockdowns that we are now guiding LGUs with.”
Metro Manila and 4 surrounding provinces returned to MECQ on Aug. 4 after exhausted health workers called for “breathing space” while swamped hospitals turned away coronavirus patients amid a surge in cases.
The tally of COVID-19 cases and the health care capacity will be considered in lifting the MECQ, said Vergeire.
The government has “gained grounds” in decongesting hospitals by transferring patients to other facilities with more available beds or to temporary treatment and monitoring sites, she said.
Malacañang earlier said it was "highly unlikely" for the two-week MECQ to be extended.
The Philippines as of Wednesday confirmed a total of 143,749 COVID-19 cases, including 72,348 that are active, 68,997 recoveries, and 2,404 deaths.