DOH: Safeguards in place for implementation of stricter GCQ in ‘NCR Plus’

DOH: Safeguards in place for implementation of stricter GCQ in 'NCR Plus'

MANILA, Philippines — Safeguards are in place for the implementation of a more stringent version of general community quarantine in Metro Manila and surrounding provinces, the Department of Health said Friday.

The capital region along with Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal will be under GCQ “with heightened restrictions” starting this weekend. Areas in “NCR Plus” had been under modified enhanced community for four weeks.

“Base sa mga indicators na meron tayo at base sa pag-aaral na ginawa ng iba’t-ibang ahesya at saka ng ating eksperto, nakikita na kakayanin natin kung tayo ay mag-GCQ with heightened restrictions,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a briefing.

(Based on the indicators that we have and the studies conducted by different agencies and our experts, we are seeing that we can handle if we shift to GCQ with heightened restrictions.)

“We have several safeguards that we have identified and one of the most important that we emphasize is for our local governments to work on shortening the period from the time a person is detected with COVID-19 or with symptoms to the time they’re isolated,” she added.

Under the stricter GCQ, only essential travel into and out of the bubble is permitted.

Indoor dining is allowed at 20% seating capacity, while outdoor dining is permitted at 50% capacity. Tourist attractions within the bubble can open at 30%.

Religious gatherings as well as necrological services for those who died of causes other than COVID-19 are allowed at 10% of the venue capacity.

“The reason why we included heightened restrictions because what we’re allowing is calibrated reopening. Different industries will slowly reopen to provide jobs to people but with heightened restrictions, non-essential activities are still restricted,” Vergeire said.


According to the World Health Organization, the positivity rate should remain below 5% for at least two weeks before governments consider reopening. Positivity rate refers to the percentage of people who have tested positive from all those who underwent testing.

The positivity rate in the country was at 10.26% as of May 12.

Vergeire said the positivity rate is only one of the parameters of the government in deciding whether or not to relax movement restrictions along with the two-week growth rate, average daily attack rate and gatekeeping indicators.

“Current data show that cases are going down. Average daily cases are decreasing… Before the ICU bed utilization was as high as 88% but now it’s at 67%. So it’s an improvement. But we’re not saying that we are already safe. We should not be complacent,” she said.

The Philippines, which has one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in Southeast Asia, has tallied 1.13 million cases, including nearly 19,000 deaths. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

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