OCTA, mayor recommend extended GCQ for July

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 28) — The OCTA Research group favors an extension of the general community quarantine status in Metro Manila to July — a likely scenario, according to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

OCTA’s recommendation comes amid the threat of the highly transmissible Delta and Delta Plus COVID-19 variants across the world.

Speaking with CNN Philippines' New Day on Monday, OCTA Research fellow Guido David said he prefers extending GCQ in the capital region even while increasing the capacity of businesses to bolster economic recovery.

"For the NCR, we could add capacity to businesses," David said. "We could open some other businesses, but I agree with the position of the DOH (Department of Health) that we should maintain GCQ in the NCR because although the trend is decreasing, the virus is still present."

Meanwhile, Roque said in a Malacañang briefing that he believes the capital region will remain under GCQ. Without explaining further, he added it may be “difficult” to change the level of COVID-19 restrictions at this time.

He clarified that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases will still meet on Monday to discuss the matter.

It is also still uncertain if the July quarantine classifications will be announced during President Rodrigo Duterte’s address to the nation on Monday night, Roque said.

San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora also recommended keeping the GCQ status, noting that the public must not let their guard down.

"Given that there is indeed a real threat [brought by] the Delta variant and there's still cases, although low, but sustained, I would rather keep the GCQ status," Zamora said.

"Right now, we are seeing that businesses are operating, the economy is functioning while cases remain stable so I would rather have the GCQ," he added.

David said that while the national government continues to monitor the Delta variant (B.1.617.2) and its Delta Plus mutation (B.1.617.2.1) which has already been reported in other countries, the Philippines must continue to protect its borders.

Meanwhile, Philippine Genome Center executive director Cynthia Saloma told The Source on Monday that they continue to ramp up genome sequencing efforts but there has been no community transmission of the Delta variant in the Philippines so far. The 17 cases that were earlier recorded were all from returning Filipino travelers, she noted.

READ: PH records more cases of Delta coronavirus variant 

David said Metro Manila is already under a moderate-low risk area, back to its pre-COVID-19 surge level. He warned, however, that loosening border restrictions may cause a surge that is worse than what the capital region experienced a few months ago.

In its report on Monday, OCTA bared that daily COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila decreased by 9%, from 731 per day from June 14 to 20 to 667 new cases daily over the past week.

The region has a 4.83 average daily attack rate, with 36% hospital bed occupancy, 45% bed occupancy, and 32% mechanical ventilator occupancy, "all within safe levels."

Navotas, San Juan and Pateros also logged the fewest daily cases of less than 10 among other local government units.

READ: OCTA flags 'serious surge' in NCR but lockdowns lower month-end projection 

Zamora said speeding up their vaccination program is a way to further control COVID-19 transmission in their city. He added that so far, the local government has inoculated 63,960 residents or 75% of their 85,400 target population.

Metro Manila and Bulacan are currently under GCQ "with some restrictions" until June 30, while Rizal, Laguna and Cavite are under GCQ "with heightened restrictions" for the remainder of the month.

The national government advises the public to complete their COVID-19 doses, continue wearing face masks, face shields, and follow physical distancing rules to protect themselves from the virus.