Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Monday he supports the extension of the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in Metro Manila and nearby provinces to further decrease the number of COVID-19 cases.
This developed as the number of coronavirus cases logged in the Philippines since the start of the pandemic topped one million, as another health official warned against easing restrictions, to give hospitals some “breathing room.”
“I think MECQ should be extended for another week or two because our health system’s capacity has yet to significantly improve,” Duque said.
“The COVID-19 ICU capacity of hospitals in some cities in Metro Manila is still at a critical level,” he said in Filipino.
MECQ prohibits non-essential trips and partially shuts down non-essential businesses and services.
Duque, in his capacity as DOH Secretary, chairs the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), which is the policy-making body of the government’s COVID-19 response.
Duque said the IATF was meeting Monday to discuss whether the MECQ would be extended beyond April 30.
“There will be a new recommendation from the sub-technical working group on data analytics. What we are looking at is the number of cases per 100,000 population,” he said.
The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday reported 8,929 new COVID-19 cases, pushing total infections since the pandemic began to 1,006,428.
The DOH reported 70 new fatalities, bringing the death toll from COVID-19 to 16,853, which was 1.67 percent of all cases.
The DOH also reported 11,333 newly-recovered persons, bringing total recoveries to 914,952, which was 90.9 percent of the total.
Active cases stood at 74,623, which is 7.4 percent of the total number of cases. Of the active cases, 95.4 percent were mild, 1.4 percent were asymptomatic, 1 percent were critical, 1.3 percent were severe, and 0.87 percent were moderate.
The DOH also reported that, nationwide, 64 percent of the ICU beds, 47 percent of the isolation beds, 52 percent of the ward beds, and 45 percent of the ventilators were in use.
In Metro Manila, 71 percent of the ICU beds, 57 percent of the isolation beds, 64 percent of the ward beds, and 58 percent of the ventilators were in use.
The Palace said President Duterte would announce the new quarantine classifications for the National Capital Region in his “Talk to the People” public address on Wednesday, April 28.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the IATF will meet today to discuss their recommendations with the President.