Government set to deescalate NCR+ quarantine, Roque says

MANILA. Police man checkpoints across NCR, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal to implement enhanced community quarantine restrictions until April 11, 2021. (Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo)
MANILA. Police man checkpoints across NCR, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal to implement enhanced community quarantine restrictions until April 11, 2021. (Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo)

THE government is less likely to extend the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the National Capital Region (NCR), Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal because there are no more funds for social amelioration, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said on Monday, April 5, 2021.

“Given what (Budget) Secretary (Wendell) Avisado said that we have no more funds for ayuda and Congress currently is in recess so in case we need a supplemental budget, we would have to request for a special session,” Roque said in a television interview.

“I don’t think ECQ for a third week is actually a possibility. Based on the model of DOH (Department of Health), what they recommended was two weeks of ECQ to be followed by a week of MECQ (modified enhanced community quarantine) and if we implement the minimum health protocols,” he added.

Roque said they expect the new cases to go down by May 15 to around 4,000 a day, the highest monthly average for 2020.

NCR and the four provinces, dubbed as NCR plus, were first placed inside a bubble on March 22 to restrict mobility and slow down transmission of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

The restrictions were escalated a week later and the area was placed under ECQ for Holy Week from March 29 to April 4. The ECQ has been extended for another week to April 11.

Roque announced a P1,000 worth of aid to 22.9 million individuals, about 80 percent of the affected population. For each family, the assistance would not be more than P4,000 in kind.

Roque said there will be no additional cash aid to be provided.

“Traditional naman po na ang pasok lang naman talaga ay Monday to Tuesday (during Holy Week), kaya dalawang araw lang po talaga ang nawala na kita sa ating mamamayan,” he said.

“The P4,000 per family... that will never be enough, but the nature of ayuda is to help [the family] pass this period na hindi makakapagtrabaho. ‘Yun na po ‘yun,” he added.

In a separate interview, Department of Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said they were still uncertain over the impact of the one-week ECQ extension on Covid-19 transmission.

She said that in Metro Manila alone, new Covid-19 cases were averaging over 6,695 per day.

Vergeire said both the number of cases per day and positivity rate have been increasing over the past weeks.

She said the increase in the positivity rate can be due to faster transmission of the virus or low testing capability.

DOH hospitals in Metro Manila have requested for tents to accommodate more Covid-19 patients seeking hospital care. At least 51 hospitals in the capital region are classified as critical in terms of Covid-19 occupancy. (SunStar Philippines)

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