The quarantine bubble imposed in Metro Manila and nearby provinces — collectively called by the government as “NCR Plus” — is predicted to cut COVID cases by at least 25%, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said today.
Under the new rules, Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal are in general community quarantine from today until April 4. Residents of these areas can travel within the “bubble,” but not outside of it. Those living outside of NCR Plus cannot enter the area unless they are going there for work, in which case they need to show their IDs at checkpoints.
All mass gatherings are banned, even those which are religious in nature. All essential and non-essential businesses are allowed to open, but offices have been told to keep just 30% to 50% of their workers on-site. The rest should be working from home.
NCR Plus, which used to be called the Greater Manila Area, appears to be on lockdown, but Roque refuses to call it as such.
“It’s not [a lockdown] because the economy remains open. We have imposed restrictions on fiscal mobility to avoid the gathering of individuals because we all know these gatherings serve as super-spreaders of the virus. But the economy remains open,” he said in an interview with the news program Headstart.
Roque said that the recent surge in COVID cases was caused by the spreading of new variants such as those first detected in the United Kingdom and South Africa. By prohibiting people from leaving the bubble, the variant is not spread in other parts of the country.
“If we’re going to spread these variants all over the Philippines can you imagine what will happen? As you go outside Metro Manila you have less and less capacity to care for those who may get sick,” he said.
“We’re estimating that with these measures and at the end of the 2-week period, that the numbers would drop by at least 25%, but we’re hoping for more,” he added.
Roque added that under the new rules, leisure travel is permitted, except for those under the age of 18 and over 65. They, along with pregnant women and those with comorbidities, are prohibited from going out of their homes.
Meanwhile, Filipinos online are equally exasperated and amused at “NCR Plus,” a new addition to the government’s list of pandemic terms. “Tightened Lockdown? Circuit Break your day with NCR PLUS w/ Soft and Hard Granular Bubbles!” joked @KevinKalbo.
@KafosoMo tweeted, “NCR plus 128GB sim free with AppleCare+”
“Yesterday, we announced NCR PLUS. The greatest and most innovative solution we ever made. Packed with the fastest virus transmission with zero percent efficiency and effectivity to fight COVID. Developed by the oldest generals in the country,” wrote Edhil Canlas.
The Philippines has the second-highest number of COVID cases in Southeast Asia, with 663,794 recorded as of yesterday including 577,754 recoveries and 12,968 deaths. The Duterte government has started vaccinating healthcare workers using CoronaVac and AstraZeneca vaccines, donated from China and the COVAX facility respectively. No legally procured vaccine has arrived yet in the Philippines.
This article, NCR Plus Pro Max: Newly imposed quarantine bubble will cut COVID cases by 25% says Roque, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company.