Defense chief: Metro Manila ready for GCQ

Defense Secretary said Monday there was a downtrend in COVID-19 cases and that Metro Manila is ready to go back to less stringent general community quarantine (GCQ).

“Yes, I think the trend is going down. Yesterday there were only around 3,000 cases – down from 6,000 previously,” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in an interview with ANC.

Lorenzana, who is also the chairperson of the national task force against COVID-19, said the capital region’s economy could not continue to suffer. He added the government already identified areas where there are a high number of cases.

The Defense chief made his assessment based on the 6,352 cases recorded on August 4, compared to 3,109 cases on Sunday, August 9.

Reported new COVID-19 infections range from 3,000 to 4,000 since August 4.

New coronavirus cases in the country’s daily tally have not gone below 3,000 since July 30.

As of August 9, the Philippines has a total of 129,913 cases wherein 59,968 were active cases. The number of recoveries meanwhile is at 67,675, while fatalities are 2,270.

Earlier, Malacañang said it does not see modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) extension in Metro Manila and other high-risk areas, citing the economy cannot afford longer lockdown.

“Tatapatin ko po kayo, hindi na po kaya ng ekonomiya ang mas matagalan pang lockdown,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a televised briefing.

(I’ll be honest with you. Our economy could not handle the prolonged lockdown.)

Roque reiterated that the main reason for bringing back MECQ was to give health frontliners a breather amid the COVID-19 surge and to strengthen the government’s response to the pandemic. Metro Manila, Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite, and Rizal will be under MECQ from August 4 to 18.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año also said earlier, he is confident that the number of COVID-19 cases would decrease during the implementation of the MECQ or modified enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

Experts from the University of the Philippines said earlier the reimposed modified MECQ in Metro Manila could reduce the number of COVID-19 cases by at least 50,000 by the end of August.

According to Professor Ranjit Rye of the UP OCTA research team, the Philippines could have 220,000 COVID-19 cases by the end of the month if the capital remained under general community quarantine (GCQ).