Maybe it was because the “super-spreader” event warned about by health officials from the 2020 Holidays only took until now to hit its stride. Maybe the news that vaccines are already coming has made people complacent. Maybe it was the new UK variant strain entering the country, or the fact that reporting on daily cases had recently seen deaths outnumbering recoveries after so long. Whatever the reason, the specter of COVID-19 hovers over the Philippines anew, almost like it had for a solid part of 2020. Perhaps it is understandable then that community quarantine levels nationwide are escalating once more.
Inquirer.net reports that effective the start of February, several key areas of the country will be placed under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) for the duration of the entire month. The affected areas were revealed by Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque during a televised briefing this Friday, January 29. To wit, from February 1 to 28, GCQ status will apply to Metro Manila, the whole of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), the individual provinces of Batangas, Davao del Norte and Lanao del Sur, and the major cities of Davao, Tacloban and Iligan.
GCQ level of quarantine is mandated on communities with “moderate risk” in healthcare capacity. This means that 60 to 70 percent of an area’s total bed capacity – hospital rooms, isolation wards, intensive care units and ventilators – are being used at any given time. As COVID is a mass spreader, it can send plenty of infected to fill up hospitals and dedicated isolation centers. Almost all named areas have been consistently topping national rankings in new COVID cases daily. Furthermore, the CAR provinces of Benguet and Mountain Provinces have recorded cases of the new, more infectious, COVID variant from the UK.
Other areas of the country that have not been mentioned in Presidential spokesperson Roque’s report will for the most part remain under Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ), a more relaxed status denoting “safe” levels of bed capacity, 60% or below. However, the city of Passi in Iloilo province is currently under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) since January 28 until February 11. ECQ covers high risk to critical levels of bed capacity or above 70 percent.
Image courtesy of Rappler