Roque: COVID-19 data points to shift to relaxed quarantine in some Metro Manila areas

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 7) — More relaxed restrictions may be carried out in Metro Manila if the trend of fewer COVID-19 cases continues, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said on Thursday.

He referred to the statements of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and other health experts about the flattening of the virus curve.

"Kung hindi magbabago ang datos na nagpapakita ngayon na bumabagal na ang pagkalat at meron pa tayong kapasidad na magbigay ng critical care, eh siguro po iyan ang direksyon," he said in a media briefing.

[Translation: If the COVID-19 trend continues and we keep seeing a slow down of cases and we have better capacity for critical care that is most likely the direction we will take.]

Roque, who is also a member of the task force that sends COVID-19 recommendations to President Rodrigo Duterte, said he doubts that the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) will be relaxed in the whole metropolis by May 15. 

"Hindi lang ako sigurado kung ito ay magiging para sa buong Metro Manila dahil sa ibat-ibang siyudad ay patuloy pa rin ang pagdoble ng sakit every 2 to 3 days. Sa aking siyudad na Quezon City ay mabilis pa rin po ang pagkalat ng sakit," he said.

[Translation: I am not sure if the ECQ will be lifted in the entire Metro Manila because in some cities, cases continue to rise. In my city, Quezon City, the number of COVID-19 cases continues to soar.]

Public health specialist Dr. John Wong said earlier this week that the country began flattening the curve 10 to 14 days ago. Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that from a one- to two-day surge, the virus case doubling time is now at four to five days. She noted other areas even recorded an average of seven days.

Roque said that if the trend continues, areas under ECQ may transition to general community quarantine (GCQ) wherein people can return to work and some nonessential businesses are allowed to reopen.

He said the decision on the shift will be released before May 15, adding that it will depend on the speed of COVID-19 transmission in the area and availability of critical care facilities.

"A few days before May 15 dahil kinakailangan mag-transition din tayo to GCQ [Because we need to transition to GCQ]," he said.

The ECQ in Metro Manila and other high-risk areas was extended until May 15. The rest of the country is under GCQ.

The Philippines has recorded 10,343 COVID-19 cases, with 685 deaths and 1,618 recoveries.