Metro Manila, once the country’s pandemic epicenter, is “ready” to loosen coronavirus quarantine restrictions, but local city executives need to consider the presence of a new variant.
“Handa naman kami,” Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman Benhur Abalos said when asked on his reaction to Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua’s statement that the capital has an “opening” to shift to modified general community quarantine.
“Pero pag-uusapan namin nang husto ito, ang preparasyon dito, dahil we have a new variant,” he said in a virtual briefing Thursday.
[Translation: We are ready…But we have to discuss this carefully and prepare since we have a new variant.]
The Philippines already recorded 17 cases of the Delta variant, the DOH said on June 21. The Delta coronavirus variant, first identified in India in February, is believed to be 60% more contagious than the Alpha variant and can cause severe symptoms.
Earlier this week, President Rodrigo Duterte approved the new quarantine status proposed by the pandemic task force, with Metro Manila, Rizal and Bulacan remaining under general community quarantine “with some restrictions” until July 15.
During the briefing, Abalos reported that Metro Manila has been seeing “good” figures regarding its COVID-19 cases.
So far, the capital region already administered 4.3 million vaccine doses. By end-September, Abalos sees hitting 14.5 million doses.
Metro Manila has a population of 14 million.
The official also claimed that the national government and Metro Manila mayors were “successful” in balancing the health of the public and the economy in the country’s ongoing fight against COVID-19.