Govt. sees higher COVID-19 infection rate in Metro Manila even with six-week hard lockdown

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 7) — Coronavirus infections will continue to rise in Metro Manila even if the government decides to extend the hard lockdown to six weeks, a Health official said on Saturday.

The government is imposing hard lockdowns to boost the health care capacity and "delay" the uncontrollable COVID-19 spike, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said as she warned active cases in Metro Manila are expected to reach tens of thousands by end-September.

Metro Manila is under enhanced community quarantine from August 6 to 20.

During a virtual briefing, Vergeire shared the Health department's initial case projections for the capital region:

• one week of general community quarantine (GCQ) with heightened restrictions + five weeks of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) = 15,000 active cases by the end of September

• one week of GCQ with heightened restrictions + three weeks of ECQ + two weeks of MECQ = 42,000 active cases by the end of September

• one week of GCQ heightened restrictions + two weeks of ECQ + three weeks of MECQ = 58,000 active cases by the end of September

The figures were higher compared to the health authority's case projection last week, which stated that the National Capital Region's active cases could range from 18,000 to 30,000 by end-September even if the ECQ will be extended to four weeks.

On Friday, the Health department said the new variant was detected in all of Metro Manila. It also reported 119 new Delta cases, pushing the total to 450.

Vergeire said the agency has yet to confirm community transmission of the new variant, but the government is already "acting as if there is community transmission."

"Nakikita na po natin na sumisipa na ang mga kaso. Nararamdaman na po natin ang epekto ng Delta variant sa ating bansa," she said.

[Translation: We can already see that the cases are kicking in. We are already feeling the effect of the Delta variant in our country.]

"Ang ginagawang paghihigpit, ang adhikain dyan ay (The restriction aims) to delay further increase. Ang ginagawa ngayon ay (What we're doing is) we're preparing our system for this continuous increase in the number of cases," Vergeire said.

Vergeire said the government is expanding beds and stocking up medical supplies in different facilities across the country.