Metro Manila and the entire Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and six other areas will be under general community quarantine (GCQ) for the whole month of February, Malacanang said.
In a televised briefing, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said other areas to be under GCQ from Feb. 1 to 28 are Batangas, Tacloban City, Davao City, Davao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Iligan City.
CAR’s quarantine classification shifted from MGCQ to GCQ after its health care capacity reached “moderate risk.”
The rest of the country will be under a modified general community quarantine.
Placing the entire CAR was approved after the Department of Health (DOH) detected the presence of the more transmissible UK coronavirus variant in Bontoc, Mountain Province, and in La Trinidad, Benguet.
Shift to MGCQ
But Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the entire country may shift to MGCQ, the loosest quarantine classification, within the first quarter of the year.
“That is very much doable. We just have a new COVID-19 variant that is why we are being extra careful in our decisions, even on the age restrictions and possible movement to MGCQ,” Lopez said in a digital presser.
1,849 new cases reported
The Philippines logged on Friday 1,849 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 521,413, with eight laboratories failing to submit their data on time, the Department of Health (DOH) reported.
There were 48 new fatalities, bringing the death toll to 10,600, which is 2.03 percent of the total cases.
The DOH also reported that 177 patients recovered recently, bringing the total recoveries to 475,765, which is 91.2 percent of the total.
This left 35,048 active cases, which is 6.7 percent of the total.
DOH not alarmed over Cebu surge
A Department of Health official on Friday allayed fears about the recent surge of COVID-19 cases in Cebu, saying its health care system is still at the “safe” level.
“We are still very safe now but what we’re saying is, although this data are reflective of what’s happening here, we want to ensure also that people would not become complacent,” said Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, spokesperson and chief pathologist of the Department of Health-Central Visayas.
She made the remark in response to a study by a group of researchers and professors that COVID-19 cases in Cebu had become “a serious concern.”
“We respect their data and their concern, and we appreciate that. But in fairness to us here in Cebu City, we are far from what happened to us in May, June, and July last year. At that time, we really struggled with bed allocations,” she said.
New rules out for visiting foreigners
The government has set new conditions for foreigners who are allowed to enter the Philippines despite the travel restrictions to curb the spread of the new variant of the coronavirus disease, Malacañang said on Friday.
Roque said foreign travelers who wish to visit the Philippines are required to pre-book hotels for quarantine purposes and undergo a reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test six days after their arrival.
“These foreign nationals should also have pre-booked accommodation for at least seven nights in an accredited quarantine hotel or facility. They shall also be subject to Covid-19 testing at the quarantine hotel or facility on the sixth day from the date of their arrival,” Roque said.
Disinfect trains, lawmakers urges
Quezon City Rep. Precious Castelo on Friday called for thorough disinfection against COVID-19 of all trains and stations of MRT-3, the mass rail transit system along EDSA.
Castelo made the call after the Department of Transportation (DOTr) reported that at least 42 depot and maintenance personnel had tested positive for COVID-19 and that the facility’s general manager was fighting the disease at a hospital’s intensive care unit.
“This report is alarming. It should prompt the DOTr and health authorities to thoroughly disinfect all train cars and stations along the entire stretch of the system. The underground depot at the North Avenue area in Quezon City should be extensively sanitized as well,” she said.
Case closed on domestic in HK
The case of the Filipina domestic helper in Hong Kong who had contracted the virus’ UK strain has been deemed closed, as all of her contacts in the Philippines have already been tested and found negative of the more transmissible COVID-19 variant, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Friday.
The said overseas Filipino worker tested positive for the more transmissible COVID-19 variant when she arrived in Hong Kong from Manila in December.
She underwent quarantine in Hong Kong on Dec. 22 but she tested positive for COVID-19 and the new variant on Jan. 2.
It remains uncertain where she got infected, as she had tested negative before departure from Manila.
The DOH traced her contacts in her hometown in Cagayan Valley and her agency’s office in Manila.