MANILA — Fewer people exposed to the novel coronavirus will be allowed to go on home quarantine as Metro Manila remains under GCQ or general community quarantine, officials said Tuesday.
The region home to 12 million people will stay under the third most lenient lockdown level until Oct. 31 because around 60 percent of its hospital beds and intensive care units are occupied, said National Task Force COVID-19 Spokesperson retired Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla.
Local governments have agreed to build more isolation facilities, he said.
Home quarantine will also only be allowed for patients with commorbities and have their own bedroom with its separate bathroom, Padilla told TeleRadyo.
"Dapat talaga’y agresibo nating ilagay sa mga isolation facilities ang ating mga positive. At iyong tinatawag nating close contacts o iyong mga na-expose dapat ay ma-lock down muna iyan at ma-test bago sila lumabas ng bahay," added Interior Secretary Eduardo Año.
(We should really be aggressive in bringing to isolation facilities those who test positive. Their close contacts or those who were exposed to them should be locked down and tested before they are allowed to go out of their homes.)
"Ito ang paraang nakikita natin para mapigil talaga iyong chain of transmission," he said in a separate TeleRadyo interview.
(This is the way we see to stop the chain of transmission.)
The government aims to hire 50,000 people who will trace the close contacts of coronavirus patients. Some 43,600 people have applied, of whom 16,600 qualified. They will get P18,000 in monthly salary, Año said.
"Hindi tayo titigil. Kailangan makumpleto natin iyang 50,000," he said.
(We will not stop hiring until we complete that 50,000 contact tracers.)
Under the extended GCQ, Metro Manila residents can also fly to Boracay starting Oct. 1, provided that they test negative for the virus and are quarantined before their trip, said Padilla.
Kalibo town has a hospital and isolation facility where tourists who will catch the virus can go. Health protocols will be strictly enforced, including the wearing of masks at the beach, and a ban on sports activities and night parties, said Año.
"Handang-handa na sila... Very strict tayo, pero we will make sure na makapag-enjoy ang mga gustong pupunta ng Boracay," he said.
(Local authorities are very ready. We are very strict, but we will make sure that those who want to go to Boracay will enjoy.)
The Philippines implements a 4-level community quarantine scheme ranging from the strictest ECQ or enhanced community quarantine, to the most relaxed which is modified GCQ.
The health department has tallied 307,288 coronavirus infections, of which 49,242 were active as of Monday.