(UPDATED) President Rodrigo Duterte approved Thursday night, April 23, the recommendation to extend the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) until May 15 in the National Capital Region as well as in 24 provinces and two cities that have been identified as high risk areas for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the areas that will remain under ECQ, subject to re-evaluation on May 16, are:
NCR or Metro Manila
Davao del Norte
Davao de Oro
Subject to change by April 30 are the provinces of Benguet, Pangasinan, Tarlac and Zambales.
Roque said the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases also has to re-check the situation in Antique, Iloilo, Aklan, Capiz, Cebu, Cebu City and Davao de Oro.
Mayor Edgardo Labella, however, has already declared an extension of the ECQ in Cebu City until May 15 because of the rising cases of coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
All other areas will be under general community quarantine (GCQ), which is going to be the new normal, effective May 1, Roque said.
Areas classified as low risk may further relax quarantine rules after May 15.
Under GCQ, the IATF recommended that children and young adults up to 20 years old, senior citizens aged 60 and up, and individuals with high health risk will still be required to stay home.
Also under GCQ:
- Workers in certain sectors will be allowed to return to work in phases.
- Non-leisure shops in malls will be allowed to reopen.
- Priority and essential construction projects will be allowed to resume.
- Non-workers, except minors, may go out of their homes to buy goods and services.
- Public transportation systems will be allowed to operate at reduced capacity.
- Local government units will enforce curfew at night for non-workers.
- High schools and higher education institutes (HEIs) may be allowed to finish school year and give credential to students.
Roque said the IATF also recommended the re-allocation of cash subsidy under the Social Amelioration Program for residents in areas that will now be under GCQ to residents in ECQ areas.
In both ECQ and GCQ areas, the IATF also said airports and ports may be reopened to facilitate cargo shipments.
The IATF has also recommended the crafting of minimum health standards that will be implemented by April 27, 2020 in all ECQ areas.
Roque said the Department of Health will draw up the minimum health standards for hospitals, testing and hygiene; Department of Transportation for public transportation; Department of Trade and Industry for employers; Department of Labor and Employment for workers; and Department of Public Works and Highways for infrastructure and construction.
The agencies were given until Saturday, April 25, to submit the guidelines.
In a virtual press briefing Friday noon, Roque said the recommendations of the IATF were based on the risk of outbreak in an area.
Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua, who joined the press briefing via Skype, said the IATF used two criteria to classify the provinces, including its cities.
These are the case doubling rate and the critical care utilization rate.
“Kung mabilis dumoble, ibig sabihin yung risk of outbreak malaki at dapat bantayan natin. Yung pangalawang basehan namin ay yung critical care utilization rate. Ibig sabihin kung sapat ba yung kagamitan sa hospital, kung meron ba tayong ICU, ventilator or isolation,” he added.
“Puedeng konti lang yung kaso sa probinsya pero wala namang sapat na kagamitan sa hospital...ibig sabihin yung may sakit hindi mabibigyan ng care at baka ito ay kumalat,” he added.
The colors red, orange, yellow and green were assigned to a province and its cities based on these factors.
Red is for high-risk areas, which have either increasing cases of Covid-19 or inadequate health facilities and equipment vis-a-vis its caseload.
In NCR, Chua said intensive care units and isolation beds are already full.
Orange and yellow are for provinces with moderate risk, or those experiencing initiation (outbreak is starting) or deceleration (cases are decreasing).
Green is for low-risk areas with zero or one case.
All areas approved for ECQ extension are red and high risk areas, except for Aklan and Capiz in the Visayas and Davao de Oro in Mindanao which were classified under orange.
Orange and yellow areas (moderate) may shift to GCQ on May 1.
For green or low-risk areas, GCQ will be relaxed by May 16 if there is no deterioration in condition, Chua said.
As of April 23, novel coronavirus infections in the country have reached 6,981, with 462 deaths and 722 patients who have recovered.
Health officials have noted that doubling time, or the period during which the number of cases doubles, has lengthened indicating slower progression of the infections.
But they also said the epidemic curve, or the chart plotting the number of infections in an epidemic over time, is not flattening yet and there is no room for complacency. (MVI/JTM/SunStar Philippines)