MMDA chief: NCR mayors preparing for granular lockdowns, as COVID cases spike

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 28 2021 07:25 PM

Residents wait to receive food boxes from the local government inside a locked down community in Barangay Tunasan, Muntinlupa City on August 14, 2021. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News
Residents wait to receive food boxes from the local government inside a locked down community in Barangay Tunasan, Muntinlupa City on August 14, 2021. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA—National Capital Region mayors are preparing for granular lockdowns, as COVID-19 infections spiked, driven most likely by the Delta variant, the head of Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said Saturday.

In an interview on ANC, MMDA chairman Benjamin Abalos said the reproduction rate (R) in Metro Manila was at 1.46 as of Friday, based on analysis made by the OCTA Research group. 

An R represents the number of people who can get the virus from a COVID-19 patient. 

"We hope the reproduction rate will decrease, para hindi ganoon kadami ang kaso (so the cases won't be that high). But as it is right now, the mayors are preparing for granular lockdowns," Abalos said.


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They are already identifying areas deemed "contagious and infectious." There are currently at least 3,700 households under lockdowns, Abalos added.

A granular lockdown is a strict quarantine limited to streets or barangays, and is aimed to contain a clustering of infections. 

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said earlier this week that the country could carry out granular lockdowns, but the proposal has yet to be approved by President Rodrigo Duterte.

"Ang mangayayari dito sa shift of policy . . . Hindi na magkakaroon ng malawakang mga lockdown kung hindi granular lockdown," Año said. 

(There will be a shift in policy. Larger lockdowns will no longer happen due to granular lockdowns)

Earlier Saturday, the Department of Health (DOH) said nearly half of Metro Manila's hospitals were on high risk as they continued to be overwhelmed with virus admissions. 

Only 6 cities in Metro Manila have at least a 60-percent ICU bed utilization rate in their hospitals. Hospitals throughout the rest of the region, meanwhile, were at over 70-percent capacity, according to Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

The One Hospital Command Center has been swamped with calls — at least 500 daily — Vergeire said.

Because of this, Abalos appealed to mild COVID-19 positive residents to go to a local government triage, instead of hospitals, so that medical facilities could treat severe virus patients. 

Based on the health department's data as of Friday, the NCR counted the most number of new infections in the past 14 days with 48,469 new cases. 

Data sourced from the DOH's COVID-19 tracker
Data sourced from the DOH's COVID-19 tracker

Calabarzon followed with 37,940 fresh infections in the past 2 weeks. 


Meanwhile, Abalos said the region is on track to have 50 percent fully vaccinated residents by next week. 

Metro Manila, Abalos added, could also attain 60 to 70 percent fully immunized individuals by the end of September or early October. 

An analysis by the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group earlier this week showed that active cases in Metro Manila have risen five-fold, even as nearly half of its residents eligible for vaccination have been fully immunized and nearly 80 percent have received a dose. 

While active infections went down significantly in the 4 months and a half since the government started its inoculation drive in March, new cases continued to rise, which experts said was due to the local presence of the Delta variant. 

Infectious disease expert Dr. Rontgene Solante said the continued rise in active cases could also be driven by the number of unvaccinated people in Metro Manila. 

On Saturday, the Philippines tallied 19,441 more COVID-19 cases — the highest ever since the pandemic started.