MANILA— The Department of Health (DOH) is hopeful the Philippines would be able to transition to modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), the lowest restriction level, by the first quarter of 2021 as the country’s daily coronavirus infections continue to decline in the past weeks.
All local government units (LGUs) can only enjoy relaxed quarantine protocols if they have an efficient surveillance and contact tracing system, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said Wednesday in a press briefing.
The public must also continue to observe minimum health standards, which is central in reducing the spread of the virus, she added.
“That’s why our target, by the end of first quarter next year, all local governments will be under MGCQ, so all of us can shift to this new normal we are saying,” Vergeire said in a mix of Filipino and English.
The Philippines employs a 4-level community quarantine scheme ranging from the strictest enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to the most relaxed MGCQ. The quarantine level dictates the type of business activities allowed in a certain area, as well as travel restrictions.
Under MGCQ, Filipinos can go to more establishments and activities as public gatherings are allowed, provided the participants shall be limited to 50 percent of the venue or seating capacity.
These include movie screenings, concerts, sporting events and church or religious gatherings. Everyone will also be allowed to go outside.
Metro Manila, Batangas, Iloilo City, Bacolod City, Tacloban City, Iligan City and Lanao del Sur are under GCQ until the end of November. The rest of the country is under MGCQ, the least stringent of the lockdown levels.
As of Nov. 4, the country has recorded 388,137 coronavirus infections since the pandemic began, the second highest in the Southeast Asian region.
The tally includes 7,367 people who succumbed to the disease while 349,091 have recovered. Some 31,679 patients are still currently sick with the virus.