President Rodrigo Duterte will announce new lockdown classifications today even as Metro Manila mayors push for the extension of the general community quarantine (GCQ) until the end of December, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said Sunday.
The chief executive earlier placed the National Capital Region, Batangas, Lanao del Sur, Iloilo City, Bacolod City, Tacloban City and Iligan City under GCQ from Nov. 1 to 30.
Duterte also placed his hometown, Davao City, under GCQ on Nov. 20 following the rise of COVID-19 cases in the area.
National Task Force COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. said Metro Manila mayors have voiced their desire for the region to remain under GCQ during the holiday season.
“We need to listen to their opinion and recommendation. For them, they would like the Christmas season to pass under GCQ,” Galvez said.
“We are worried that there might be a spike or surge if people go out and engage in activities such as parties and caroling,” he added.
Vice President Leni Robredo said she supported the mayors' recommendation for an extension of the GCQ.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DOH) advised the public to hold Christmas parties with members of the same household only, warning of a potential rise in COVID-19 cases if they invite people from different households.
“Let's keep the parties within the household only,” said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, speaking in Filipino. Household parties should also observe the minimum health protocols such as physical distancing, she said, adding that families should skip buffet-style meals for now.
Vergeire also discouraged both national government agencies and local government units from conducting outreach programs, since such activities will draw crowds.
If holding such a program cannot be avoided, Vergeire said people must observe physical distancing and wear face masks and shields. Organizers must also limit the number of people in the venue.
In GCQ areas, groups must be limited to only 10 people. Under a modified GCQ, 50 people are allowed in a gathering.
The DOH earlier issued guidelines on upcoming Christmas celebrations.
Aside from warning against singing karaoke with people other than those you live with at home, the DOH also advised the public to limit social interaction to less than 15 minutes, as a recent study showed that even this amount of time could result in a COVID-19 infection.
The DOH said it would also be better if celebrations are held in well-ventilated areas or open spaces.
The Philippines logged 2,076 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, bringing the total to 429,864, even as seven laboratories failed to submit their reports, the DOH said.
The DOH also reported 10,579 persons who newly recovered, bringing the total recoveries to 398,624, after the DOH implemented a “mass recovery” adjustment. The total number of recoveries is 92.7 percent of the total number of cases.
The DOH reported 40 new fatalities, bringing the death toll due to COVID-19 to 8,373, which is 1.95 percent of the total number of cases.
There are 22,867 active cases, representing 5.3 percent of total cases.
Of the active cases, 82.9 percent are mild; 7.4 percent are asymptomatic; 6.1 percent are critical; 3.2 percent are severe; and 0.34 percent are moderate.
Also on Sunday:
• PLDT Chairman Manuel V Pangilinan joined other top business leaders to support the national government in providing 2 million doses of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine for frontliners.
Pangilinan joined fellow business leaders Joey Concepcion, Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Tessie Coson, Ricky Razon, and Ramon Ang in the vaccine donation to the government. “The protection of our health workers and public frontliners is indeed a priority. We equip our frontliners with PPE and we have also provided disinfectants and COVID-19 testing extraction machines to hospitals nationwide —all these to ensure that we have the necessary means to help combat the pandemic. A vaccine will hopefully stem the pandemic, which is, literally, a shot in the arm that we need,” Pangilinan said.
• The Philippine National Police said it will deploy more police in areas of convergence during the Christmas season. Joint Task Force COVID-19 Shield commander Police Lieutenant General Cesar Hawthorne Binag said he ordered a doubled police visibility in these areas in an interview on radio dzBB.
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