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Metro Manila reverts to GCQ as Covid-19 toll nears 174k

20 August 2020

By The SUN

The whole Metro Manila is under curfew from 8pm to 5am (PhilStar photo)

Philippine health officials reported 4,650 new coronavirus infections today, Aug 19, bringing the national tally to 173,774, as Malacañang re-imposed a general community quarantine on Metro Manila in its fight against the pandemic.

Health officials reported 111 new deaths today, taking the death toll to 2,795.

The Department of Health said that of the total infection tally, active cases numbered 57,498. There were 716 new recoveries, bringing the total to 113,481.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the National Task Force Against Covid-19, along with some members of the Cabinet, approved on Tuesday night the transition of Metro Manila back to GCQ from the more stringent modified enhanced community quarantine.

Also placed back on GCQ from Aug 19 to 31 were the neighboring provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Cavite and Rizal.

Under GCQ since Aug 16 were the provinces of Nueva Ecija, Batangas and Quezon, along with the cities of Iloilo, Cebu, Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue and Talisay and the municipalities of Minglanilla and Consolacion in Cebu province.


The rest of the country remains under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ)

Roque said the new measures are stricter than in the previous GCQ that President Duterte imposed on the rest of Luzon and select parts of the country on May 1, as it put Metro Manila under enhanced community quarantine on the same day.

The GCQ protocols maintain a ban on mass gatherings of more than 10 persons, including religious services.
Several establishments will remain closed, including those that offer personal care and aesthetic procedures and services (except salons and barbershops); gyms/fitness studios and sports facilities, testing and tutorial centers, review centers, internet cafes, drive-in cinemas, pet grooming services padlocked.

Dine-in restaurants, salons and barbershops and all their services, except full body massages, are allowed, but local government units in their locations will determine whether they should take in customers either at 30% or 50% of their capacity.

All cities have agreed to unify their curfew hours from 8:00pm-5:00am everyday.


Enforcement of quarantine passes are at the discretion of the local chief executives.

Face shields, apart from face masks, are required in commercial places, workplaces (indoor) and public transport.

Backriding in motorcycles is still allowed provided both riders live in the same address. Protegyctive barriers between riders are no longer required.

Experts warn pooled testing should only be used in low-risk areas and among asymptomatics

Meanwhile, the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases today warned against the government's plan to adopt a pooled testing strategy to speed up the testing of more people for the coronavirus.

The group said the strategy should only be used in areas with low prevalence of the virus and among asymptomatic people.

Pindutin para sa detalye

Under this scheme, samples from a group of people are pooled and tested. If the pooled sample tests negative, all those in the group are deemed virus-free. If the pooled sample tests positive, they will be retested individually to identify the virus carrier.

The government said pooled testing would cut down on the cost of the gold standard but expensive RT-PCR swab test and will allow the testing of more people, which entails deployment of more frontliners.

As the Covid-19 crisis spreads, the government has suspended the deployment of Filipino health workers abroad, Malacañang said on Tuesday.

The decision to stop medical and allied health workers from leaving the country was reached by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Infectious Diseases in a meeting on Monday.

In Resolution 64, the IATF-EID urged the DOH and all government hospitals to hire health professionals to augment their workforce.

The task force, however, exempted healthcare workers with perfected and signed contracts as of Mar 8 from the deployment ban.

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