Virus quarantines in Philippines to remain ‘for now,’ says Palace

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People visit SM North in Quezon City on May 27, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The Philippines will keep virus quarantines in place "for now" after the country's pandemic task force temporarily removed the "new normal" classification.

The Southeast Asian nation of 100 million people observes a 4-step quarantine system, before the "new normal" with just the minimum health standards observed. Metro Manila is under the third strictest called GCQ or general community quarantine.

"Sa ngayon po wala munang new normal. Ibig sabihin lahat ng lugar po sa Pilipinas meron pa rin community quarantine," Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said Tuesday.

(There will be no new normal for now. This means that all areas in the Philippines will stay under community quarantine)

Adopted at the start of virus lockdowns last March, the highest is enhanced community quarantine or ECQ, followed by modified ECQ, GCQ and modified GCQ.

The MGCQ was previously touted as the transition point to the "new normal" or the full easing of virus restrictions.

Roque said the changes in the community quarantine system are only temporary and subject to change.

"That's not permanent kasi habang nagmimeeting ang IATF nababago po ang kanilang guidelines," Roque added.

(The guidelines are changing with every meeting of the IATF)

Authorities will still use the case doubling time and critical care utilization rate of different areas in community quarantine classifications.

Areas found to be at high-risk of COVID-19 local transmission will be placed under ECQ or modified ECQ.

Those with moderate-risk of local transmission of the virus will be classified either as general community quarantine (GCQ) areas or MGCQ areas.

Instead of transitioning to the "new normal," areas with low-risk of COVID-19 local transmission will remain under MGCQ.

For MECQ and MGCQ areas, the IATF will consider the following indicators: social, economic, and security factors, clustering of cases, health system capacity and continuous increasing of decreasing new cases, case doubling time and critical care utilization rate

For now, only Cebu City is under ECQ while Talisay City, also in Cebu province is under MECQ. Other areas of the country are under GCQ and MGCQ.

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