Duque: MGCQ still possible despite spike in cases

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    HEALTH Secretary Francisco Duque III yesterday said the continuing spike in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases is not enough reason to stay under the general community quarantine (GCQ).

    In a television interview, Duque said he believes the country may still switch to the more relaxed modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) despite the recent increase in cases, with over 2,000 cases being reported for the past six days.

    “Opening the economy and keeping people healthy are not mutually exclusive. You can still open the economy safely,” said Duque, adding this can be done by ensuring that everyone will strictly adhere to the minimum public health standards.

    “I understand there is some kind of fatigue complying with all of these, but we have to keep reminding the public about this,” said Duque.

    He also said the country is more equipped now with the arrival of the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines.

    “We have the vaccines, which is an added component in our armamentaria against COVID-19,” said Duque.

    Last Sunday, President Duterte said he is likely to ease lockdowns nationwide to the more relaxed MGCQ if health authorities can sustain the government’s vaccination program.

    The administration’s economic cluster has also been pushing for the shift to MGCQ since last month, saying opening the struggling economy has become a necessity.

    Despite his optimism, Duque said the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious (IATF-EID) on the shift to MGCQ will depend on the prevailing data.

    “Between now and end of March, we still have to monitor the rising cases, like in Pasay, Malabon, Manila, and Navotas,” he said.

    “The IATF-EID is deciding based on data analytics. We will have to see how the numbers turnout between now and the last week of March,” he added.

    In its latest bulletin yesterday, the DOH said there were 2,067 new cases, raising the number of infections in the country to 580,442.

    Forty-seven more patients died, raising the death toll to 12,369 for a case fatality rate of 2.13 percent.

    There were 144 recoveries, meaning the number of survivors has risen to 534,463.

    But there remained 33,610 active cases, of which 89.8 percent are mild cases, 4.8 percent asymptomatic cases, 2.3 percent critical cases, 2.2 percent severe cases, and 0.85 percent moderate cases.

    The number of overseas Filipinos infected with the deadly virus breached the 15,000 mark after 109 new cases were reported the Department of Foreign Affairs. The number now stands at 15,023, with three more deaths raising the toll to 1,021.

    The DFA said the Middle East and Africa remained the region with the most number of confirmed cases (8,131), recoveries (4,755), under treatment (2,712), and fatalities (664) among Filipinos.

    There were 55 new recoveries, bringing the number of survivors to 9,455. – with Ashzel Hachero