President Rodrigo Duterte has extended the imposition of modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in the National Capital Region and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal (NCR Plus) until May 14, 2021.
He also apologized to the public for extending the more restrictive MECQ in NCR Plus.
“Modified enhanced community quarantine – modified, meaning somehow strict – will be imposed in NCR, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal,” he said in Filipino on Wednesday.
“To my fellow countrymen, I want to apologize. I’m sorry that I have to impose a longer modified enhanced community quarantine,” Duterte added in Filipino.
The President said he had no choice but heed advice of medical professional as Covid-19 infections continue to rise in the country.
“It is necessary because there is a spike of infections and our hospitals are already occupied,” he said in Filipino.
The Philippines on Wednesday logged 6,895 new Covid-19 infections, bringing the total case count to 1,020,495 since the pandemic started in March last year.
Quirino and Abra provinces, as well as the City of Santiago in Isabela, will also stay under MECQ for the whole month of May, Duterte said.
On the other hand, the more relaxed general community quarantine (GCQ) will be imposed in Apayao, Baguio City, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Batangas, Quezon, Tacloban City, Iligan City, Davao City, and Lanao del Sur from May 1 to 31.
The rest of the country will remain under the least restrictive modified GCQ (MGCQ).
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the latest quarantine status is still “subject to the appeals of local government units.”
The government is targeting to lower health care and intensive care unit (ICU) utilization rates to ease the quarantine protocols in the country amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
Daily attack rate, two-week average attack rate, and health care utilization rate serve as indicators for community quarantine classification.
Roque on April 22 said augmenting ICU beds is crucial in relaxing the quarantine status in the country.
On Tuesday, Roque said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III is currently in talks with an Austrian firm for the purchase of additional 200 ICU beds.