Palace defends to ease quarantine in metro

Malacañang yesterday defended the government's decision to ease quarantine measures in Metro Manila despite the fact that more than 60% of the COVID-19 cases recorded on May 28 are in the National Capital Region.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque reiterated the need to jumpstart the economy, saying the government cannot let its citizens stay out of work for too long.

“Binalanse po natin ang karapatan ng mga mamamayan na magkaroon ng kabuhayan,” Roque said, a day after President Rodrigo Duterte approved the recommendation to  put Metro Manila under general community quarantine.

“Hindi rin po natin kakayaning bigyan ng ayuda ang lahat ng hindi nakakapagtrabaho sa mas mahabang panahon,” he added, alluding to the cash grant ranging from P5,000 to P8,000 per month for two months given to low income families based on the prevailing regional minimum wage rates.

Under GCQ, 10 to 50% of mass transport are allowed as well as 75% of the workforce per company to physically report back to work.

Luzon has been placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from March 16 to May 15, a measure that prohibited mass gathering to prevent COVID-19 transmission, resulting in work stoppage in many industries. The ECQ was extended in several areas including Metro Manila on April 12, April 30, May 15 and ultimately May 31.

On May 28, the day Duterte approved the recommendation to ease quarantine restrictions in Metro Manila, over 500 new COVID-19 cases were recorded — the highest tally in a single day.

Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire explained that the increase is not necessarily new cases but due to the Health department’s increased capacity in validating COVID-19 cases submitted by 36 various laboratories.

At the Laging Handa briefing on Friday, Vergeire said the increase in reported cases would continue in the coming days.

“Nagva-validate po tayo ng ating mga numero at papasok po nang papasok ang mga kaso from the previous days,” she said.

“Ang kailangan lang lagi natin tandaan ay atin tignan po lagi kung ano po ‘yung nakikita natin for our health system, ‘yung kapasidad natin.”

Roque, for his part, said that the majority of the COVID-19 cases recorded are mild cases, and that only 60% of the country’s critical care units are utilized thus far based on DOH records.