Metro Manila would still reach about 18,000 active COVID-19 cases next month, but this number would be higher if it remained under a general community quarantine with heightened restrictions (GCQ-HR), Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said.
“We were able to update the projections. If we do GCQ-HR for one week and five weeks of ECQ (enhanced community quarantine), we could get 15,000 active cases by the end of September),” she said.
Sharing other scenarios, Vergeire said Metro Manila would hit 42,000 active cases if it implements a mix of one-week GCQ-HR, three-week ECQ, and two-week modified ECQ; and about 58,000 if it loosens the classifications to a one-week GCQ-HR with two weeks of ECQ and three weeks of modified ECQ (MECQ).
“So looking at our projections, we can see that even if we impose tougher classifications, we will still see a rise in the number of cases, but the most important thing here is to prepare our system and vaccinate more people in the hope of having fewer severe infections,” she said.
Vergeire said the current spike in cases is likely driven by the more transmissible Delta variant.
Meanwhile, the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) has suspended the shortened quarantine period for fully vaccinated individuals who are close contacts of probable and confirmed COVID-19 cases, Malacanang said.
“The decision to temporarily suspend the protocol is part of the continued implementation of proactive measures to slow down the surge in COVID-19 cases and to stop the further spread of the variants,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.
“Close contacts who remain asymptomatic for at least 14 days from the date of exposure can discontinue their quarantine. In the event that they develop symptoms or test positive for coronavirus, they shall be isolated and shall be admitted and treated in an appropriate facility,” Roque said.
Also on Wednesday, Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief, Gen. Guillermo Eleazar ordered all police officers to strictly enforce the prohibition on outdoor exercises for the duration of the ECQ period in the National Capital Region.
“The prohibition on all outdoor activities is the collective decision of all Metro Manila mayors that need to be implemented by the PNP for the safety of all, especially now that there are a lot of cases involving children, and even babies, who got infected with the coronavirus disease 2019,” Eleazar said in Filipino.
He called the prohibition on all outdoor activities very timely, considering that the Philippines has been declared as “high-risk” for COVID-19 due to the increasing number of infections.
The measure, he added, is needed to ensure that the situation would not worsen the country’s health and economic situation.
He appealed to Metro Manila residents to abide by this rule and cooperate with authorities.
The 17 mayors of Metro Manila issued a resolution Monday banning outdoor exercise for the remainder of the lockdown.