NEDA says tighter quarantine to worsen hunger, unemployment

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 23 2021 10:26 PM | Updated as of Mar 23 2021 10:58 PM

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A return to tighter quarantine will raise hunger and unemployment figures in Metro Manila, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said on Tuesday, as it sought to justify current protocols to slow a surge of COVID-19 cases. 

Metro Manila and 4 surrounding provinces are under general community quarantine, the second loosest of 4 lockdown levels, until April 4, with additional restrictions.

Should Metro Manila return to modified enhanced community community (MECQ), the second strictest level, about 266,000 COVID-19 cases and 4,000 deaths will be prevented, said NEDA Acting Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua.

However, some 58,000 people will be added to the current 3.2 million who are experiencing hunger, while 128,000 will lose their jobs. Metro Manila and adjacent areas will record an income loss of P2.1 billion, and 78,000 people would die due to non-COVID causes, he said. 

Chua said this was why his agency recommended that Metro Manila, which accounts for about a third of the gross domestic product, stay under GCQ. 

Only essential travel is allowed to and from Metro Manila and nearby Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal provinces until April 4. 

Restrictions in these areas, which the government collectively calls "NCR Plus" bubble, include curfews and a ban on mass gatherings. 

The government also slashed the operating capacity of some businesses in this bubble.