Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he would prefer that Metro Manila be put under a more relaxed modified general community quarantine (GCQ) after June 15, but the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has yet to decide the issue.
READ: NCR may remain in GCQ till June 30
In a press briefing Friday, Lorenzana, who heads the COVID-19 National Task Force, said much would depend on the IATF’s recommendation.
But Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, a member of the IATF, said Metro Manila would likely remain under a GCQ after June 15 because it continues to record fresh COVID-19 cases.
He said if quarantine restrictions are further relaxed, this could lead to a surge in new cases.
“For me, it’s 50-50, but it’s more likely that we will remain in a GCQ,” he told CNN Philippines in Filipino.
In an interview on Dobol B sa News TV, Año said he expected Metro Manila to ease out of the modified GCQ by July.
Meanwhile, the Quezon City government said its special concern lockdown has helped detect and isolate more COVID-19 cases in densely populated areas.
“We’re able to find new cases and prevent the risk of spreading the disease by immediately transferring positive cases to our HOPE community care facilities or to hospitals,” said Dr. Rolly Cruz, head of the QC-Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (ESU) of the city’s health department.
“Imagine if those areas haven’t been placed under special concern lockdown, people who might be carrying the disease can easily go in and out of their homes and spread the virus around their communities,” he added.
Between May and June 5, at least 4,013 residents from areas under the special concern lockdown had gone through the rapid testing with 240 coming back positive for antibodies.
READ: PH infections top 22k, more easing up set
Swab testing showed that only 53 of these were positive for COVID-19.
Assistant city administrator for operations Alberto Kimpo said the special concern lockdown proved to be an effective strategy in preventing the spread of the deadly virus in communities.
“This strategy is effective because we are able to zero-in on areas that need extra attention and identify clustering of positive cases,” he said.
On June 10, the city government lifted the special concern lockdown after completing the 14-day lockdown period, most with extension, without discovering new COVID-19 cases after additional tests.
Also on Friday, the National Policy Against Covid-19 Deputy Chief Implementer, Vivencio Dizon, said the supply of test kits will be stable starting next week.
During the Laging Handa public briefing, Dizon said the first batch of test kits that the government procured will arrive this weekend.
“The Department of Budget and Management committed that the first batch of our bulk supply of test kits will arrive this weekend. By next week, we will have steady supply,” he said in Filipino.
He said the lack of test kit supplies in the past months has been a challenge for the government.
“This supply in testing kit is a big problem not only in the Philippines but around the world. In the Philippines, we don’t make our own kits. Only Korea, China, Singapore, America, and Europe are the test kits producers in the world,” he said.
Dizon said that with a steady supply of test kits, the government will now expand the COVID-19 testing to include asymptomatic individuals.
Aside from health workers, Dizon said the expanded testing will also include other front-liners that help in the government’s effort to fight COVID-19 such as police personnel, soldiers, government workers, and community front-liners.
He added that the country’s testing capacity has improved from having one testing laboratory in February to 56 labs to date.
In the Senate, Senator Francis Tolentino filed a resolution to look into the possibility of providing emergency assistance to the tourism ventures, noting micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises make up 80 percent of the industry.
These are made up of tour operators, travel agencies, small retail establishments, and small hotels, which Tolentino said may be unable to survive the slump in the number of tourists as a result of quarantine restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
READ: DOTr reiterates public transport protocols under MECQ, GCQ