Duterte tightens quarantine over NCR because of Delta variant

PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Friday approved the recommendation of his pandemic task force to enforce stricter quarantine rules in Manila, the capital, and nearby cities amid the threat of the more contagious coronavirus variant that is ravaging Southeast Asian countries, according to the presidential palace.

The National Capital Region (NCR) would be placed under a general community quarantine (GCQ) with heightened restrictions from July 23 to 31, Palace spokesman Herminio L. Roque, Jr. said in a statement.

“The same IATF rules would be observed when NCR was previously under GCQ with heightened restrictions,” Mr. Roque said.

Under GCQ status — the second most lenient of the four quarantine stages — only essential travel into and out of the capital region would be allowed. The seating capacities of several business establishments will also be reduced.

Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur in northern Philippines, and Davao de Oro and Davao del Norte in the southern part of the country will also be placed under the stricter version of GCQ, Mr. Roque said.

“As these areas will be placed under GCQ with heightened restrictions, children five years old and above will not be allowed to go to outdoor areas,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Roque said the Philippines will impose a five-day travel ban on Indonesia and Malaysia starting July 25 to prevent the spread of the Delta variant, Mr. Roque said.

The ban exempts Filipinos who are part of repatriation efforts or special commercial flights, he said.

The Department of Health (DoH) on Thursday reported that it found 12 more cases of the more contagious Delta coronavirus variant that is ravaging several Southeast Asian countries, bringing the total number of patients to 47.

Of the 12 new cases, six were detected in Central Luzon, three in Metro Manila, two in Southern Tagalog, and one in the Bicol Region. All the patients have recovered.

‘GREEN’ COUNTRY RULES

In a related development, the Palace official said the task force also shortened the quarantine period for fully vaccinated international travelers from “green” countries. “Green” countries are considered low-risk based on their disease incidence rate. The new rule will take effect on July 26.

International passengers arriving from a “green” country “need only to undergo a seven-day facility-based quarantine and RT-PCR testing on the fifth day, with the day of arrival being the first day,” he said.

However, those who stayed outside a “green” country or jurisdiction at any time in the last 14 days prior to their arrival in the Philippines are not qualified for the revised quarantine rules, Mr. Roque said.

“All passengers, whether Filipinos or foreigners, merely transiting through a non-Green List country/jurisdiction/territory shall not be deemed as having come from or having been to the said country/jurisdiction/territory if they stayed in the airport the whole time and were not cleared for entry by immigration authorities.”

CASE COUNT

The DoH reported 6,845 coronavirus infections on Friday, bringing the total since the pandemic started in 2020 to 1.53 million.

Recoveries increased by 2,330 to 1.45 million since the pandemic started, it said in a bulletin. No additional deaths were recorded as “there are current technical issues” with the COVID-19 case bulletin.

The problem “is currently being addressed with the Department of Information and Communications Technology,” a DoH staff told reporters in a Viber message.

The DoH did say that there are currently 55,069 active cases, 93.3% of which are classified as mild, 1.3% are asymptomatic, 2.3% are severe, 1.60% were moderate and 1.4% critical.

The DoH said 11 duplicates had been removed from the tally, six of which were tagged as recoveries. Two laboratories failed to submit data on July 21. — Kyle Aristophere Atienza

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