Palace, DTI say GCQ status for NCR Plus after May 14 'possible'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 10) — Two officials who are part of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) have raised the possibility of easing quarantine restrictions for the National Capital Region Plus.

"I will not second guess po the IATF but pursuant to the formula, it is possible," Presidential and IATF Spokesperson Harry Roque said on Monday when asked if there is a possibility the area will shift to general community quarantine (GCQ) after May 14 when its current modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) status is scheduled to end unless extended anew.

While the official emphasized the decision on the new quarantine classification NCR Plus composed of Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal is 'collegial,' he cited some improvements in aspects part of the formula adhered to by authorities.

"[K]ung ia-apply po natin iyong formula, tingnan po ninyo nasa moderate na 'yung ating healthcare utilization rate. Tapos 'yung ating [average daily] attack rate eh bumababa na rin po, 'yung ating R naught less than one na po," said the spokesman.

[Translation: If we are to apply the formula, we could see our healthcare utilization rate is already at moderate level. Our average daily attack rate is also declining, and our R naught is already below one.]

Roque likewise reiterated the government's goal of ensuring total health, noting that many more Filipinos will suffer from hunger and poverty should the economy remain closed.

Meanwhile, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez stressed anew his department's support for a safe and calibrated reopening of the economy especially if infections are going down and more hospital beds are becoming available.

"The IATF will review these numbers and recommend the next community quarantine level, but GCQ is possible with strict localized lockdowns," Lopez told reporters, adding they will also be looking into the phasing in of other businesses.

CNN Philippines correspondent Melissa Lopez contributed to this report.