Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said Friday the government eyes lifting all community quarantines by the third quarter of 2021.
She responded to the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Director-General Karl Chua’s statements that quarantine would remain until the whole year of 2021.
Vergeire added local government units should strengthen its surveillance, contact tracing, quarantine facilities, and COVID testing efforts to make the transition to the new normal faster.
“Nothing is certain at this point, pinag-aaralan nating mabuti lahat ng posibleng mangyari. Ang milestone na tinitignan ng gobyerno, dapat by second quarter of next year, lahat ng LGUs (local government units), MGCQ na tayo,” Vergeire said.
“Kapag nabuo na natin iyong gatekeeping components saka iyong health system capacity is at low risk, maybe by second quarter next year we can shift to MGCQ and hopefully, as months progress after the second quarter, all of us can shift to new normal,” she added.
“We cannot be complacent. Dapat ipagpatuloy pa rin ang pagpapatupad ng minimum health standards,” she added.
Quarantine lifted by 2022
NEDA’s acting chief Chua said in a virtual briefing that as per the recent macroeconomic forecasts, the quarantines would only be fully lifted by 2022.
“The projection for next year assumes that we will have a modified GCQ [general community quarantine] or a relaxed version of that for the rest of the year because clearly, we cannot go back to normal life without the vaccine,” he told reporters.
“In 2022, because of the news that a vaccine will be available this year and widely available towards the end of next year, we will likely see a lifting of all the quarantines fully by 2022,” he added.
On Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte announced that Metro Manila and other key areas would remain under the general community quarantine (GCQ) while the rest of the country would be under modified GCQ.
The decision came after a discussion with the inter-agency Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC), where they revealed new macroeconomic assumptions, with a wider economic contraction of 8.5% to 9.5% expected this year.