Pres. Duterte agrees to place NCR, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal under MECQ until April 30 after addition of more COVID beds

Santiago City, and provinces of Abra and Quirino also placed under MECQ

Courtesy PCOO (April 11, 2021 Press Briefing)


(Eagle News) – After the addition of over 3,000 COVID-19 beds, President Rodrigo Duterte agreed with the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force to place Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal under Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) starting Monday, April 12 until April 30, Malacanang said on Sunday, April 11.

Also placed under MECQ from April 12 to 30 are Santiago City, and the provinces of Quirino and Abra in Region 2.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that President Duterte approved the recommendation of the IATF to place these areas under the new quarantine classifications for the rest of April provided that there would be more COVID-19 beds, both ICU and ward beds, to be dedicated in various hospitals especially those in the NCR Plus areas.   He said that a total of 3,156 COVID beds in NCR plus had been added as of April 11.  Of this number, 164 are ICU beds for critical cases, 2,227 are COVID regular beds for moderate to severe cases, and 765 are COVID isolation beds for mild and asymptomatic.

Courtesy PCOO (April 11, 2021 Press Briefing)

-Areas under GCQ-

Meanwhile, the areas placed under the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) the following areas:
-Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR);
-Region 2: Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya;
-Region 4-A: Batangas and Quezon
-Region 8: Tacloban City;
-Region 10: Iligan City;
-Region 11: Davao City;
-BARMM: Lanao del Sur;

The rest of the country will be placed under the less restrictive Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ)

-OCTA recommends ECQ extension for NCR Plus areas-

Before this announcement, the OCTA research group recommended the extension for another week of the ECQ quarantine protocol in the NCR plus area because of the continuing rise in cases of COVID-19 which continue to overwhelm hospitals.

It said that the ECQ is working as it had brought down the reproduction number of COVID-19 recently.

“In fact, the reproduction number has gone down to 1.23, and for the first time in three weeks, the NCR is experiencing negative growth in new daily cases,” OCTA said.

“Be that as it may, the reproduction number for the NCR remains above 1, meaning that significant viral transmissions continue,” it added.

-Adding more COVID-19 beds to reduce health care utilization rate-

Roque said that the addition of more COVID-19 beds in the NCR Plus areas were the primary consideration of the IATF to place these areas under the slightly less stringent MECQ protocol.

He said that with these additional COVID-19 beds, the health care utilization rate in NCR, Region 3 (Metro Manila), and Region 4-A (CALABARZON) had been lowered as follows: ICU bed capacity was lowered to 74.34 percent; Covid ward beds at 46.04 percent; and COVID isolation beds at 59.56 percent.

Courtesy PCOO (April 11, 2021 Press Briefing)

-More establishments allowed to operate at full capacity under MECQ-

Under MECQ, some private businesses, including media establishments, are allowed to operate full capacity, according to the IATF’s Omnibus Guidelines with amendments as of January 21 this year. (Under ECQ, these are limited to only 50 percent capacity.)

These include the following:
a. All establishments, persons, or activities permitted to operate, work, or be undertaken under Section 2(4) of these Guidelines;
b. Media establishments, without need of PCOO accreditation;
c. BPOs and export-oriented establishments, without need to set up onsite or near-site accommodation arrangements;
d. E-commerce companies;
e. Other postal and courier services, as well as delivery services for articles or products not mentioned under Section 2 of the Omnibus Guidelines;
f. Rental and leasing, other than real estate, such as vehicles and equipment for permitted sectors;
g. Employment activities that involve the recruitment and placement for permitted sectors; and
h. Housing services activities, such as but not limited to plumbing, roofing, and electrical works.

As with the ECQ protocols, the following establishments are still allowed to operate at full capacity:
a. Public and private hospitals;
b. Health, emergency and frontline services, including those provided by dialysis centers, chemotherapy centers, and the like;
c. Manufacturers of medicines, medical supplies, devices and equipment, including suppliers of input, packaging, and distribution;
d. Industries involved in agriculture, forestry, and fishery and their workers, including farmers, Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs), fisherfolk, and agri-fishery stores, and such other components of the food value chain; and
e. Delivery and courier services, whether in-house or outsourced, transporting food, medicine, or other essential goods, including clothing, accessories, hardware, housewares, school and office supplies, as well as pet food and other veterinary products.

-Strict observance of minimum public health standards-

For both ECQ and MECQ, minimum public health standards are to be observed at all times. Strict home quarantine shall also be observed in all households, and the movement of all residents shall be limited to accessing essential goods and services, and for work in permitted offices or establishments as well as activities listed by the IATF.

Minimum public health standards refer to wearing of face mask and face shield, frequent hand washing and sanitation, observing social or physical distancing of at least one meter, and ensuring adequate ventilation in homes, establishments and public spaces.

“Any person below 15 years old, those who are over 65 years old, those with immunodeficiency, comorbidity, or other health risks, and pregnant women, including any person who resides with the aforementioned, shall be required to remain in their residences at all times, except when indispensable under the circumstances for obtaining essential goods and services,” or for work in industries and offices or such other activities permitted by the IATF.

-Balancing act-

But because under MECQ, there are more establishments (aside from those considered essential) which are allowed to operate at full capacity (based on the IATF’s guidelines as of January 21, 2021), this means more movement of people, and more people going out compared to ECQ.

Malacanang had earlier said that the decision on what community quarantine protocol to place the greater Metro Manila area, considered the country’s business hub and economic capital, is a balancing act amid rising number of COVID-19 cases and rising incidence of hunger.

(Editor’s note: This is a developing story: Please refresh for updates)

(Eagle News Service)