- No need for swab test, quarantine for travel
- Surge in MM cases seen
Metro Manila, along with nine other areas, will remain under General Community Quarantine in March even as the government is poised to start mass inoculation next week with the arrival of 600,000 doses of Sinovac vaccine from China, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said on Saturday.
President Rodrigo Duterte approved the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to place Metro Manila, Apayao, Baguio City, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Batangas, Tacloban City, Iligan City, Davao City and Lanao del Sur under GCQ until March 31.
The rest of the country will be under modified GCQ, the most relaxed form of community quarantine, Roque said.
The IATF also approved uniform travel protocols for all local government units that remove the mandatory swab test and quarantine.
Roque said under IATF Resolution No. 101, the swab test and quarantine requirements will only be enforced if a traveler shows symptoms of COVID-19.
“Health assessment of passengers, supervised by medical doctors, shall be mandatory upon entry in the port/terminal and exit at point of destination,” he said.
“When it comes to documentary requirements, the travel authority issued by the Joint Task Force COVID-19 Shield, as well as health certificates, is no longer required,” Roque added.
In Metro Manila, all buses bound for provinces shall be required to use the Integrated Terminal Exchange as the central hub for transportation. No bus company or public transport shall be allowed use private terminals.
The OCTA Research group, however, said on Saturday said the uniform travel protocols was “concerning” as some areas are still struggling to contain the COVID-19 spread.
“That is a bit concerning because some areas are doing well and some areas are not doing well,” said Dr. Guido David.
“We have to be careful about border controls because most of the time, the reason why a second wave or another increase happens is because border controls are lax.”
“Traveling is not bad, but we should be strict without controls so we do not spread the virus across the Philippines,” he added.
The OCTA team also warned Metro Manila could post 2,500 cases daily or even more before the end of March if the spread of the virus is not curbed.
OCTA Research projected that Metro Manila could see 2,500 or more daily COVID-19 cases if the spread of the novel coronavirus was not curbed in the region.
“You can no longer attribute (the increases) to the Christmas holiday or Valentine’s or Chinese New Year or any holiday. This (increase) is a bit sustained,” David said.
“This is actually very concerning. For the past two days we’ve been getting 900 cases per day in Metro Manila. The last time we were getting 900 cases per day in Metro Manila was in October. Based on our projections a week or two ago, it could mean we will have 2,500 more cases in Metro Manila before the end of March.”
David said there was a possibility that a variant of COVID-19 was spreading in NCR.
“The weight of spread was too fast. In fact, it is faster than the weight of spread in July last year,” he said.
The country recorded 2,921 new COVID cases yesterday, with active infections increasing to 37,093.