OCTA urges PH gov’t not to lift MECQ in NCR+ just yet

Robie de Guzman   •   April 23, 2021   •   555

MANILA, Philippines – COVID-19 restrictions being enforced in the National Capital Region (NCR) and nearby provinces should not be eased yet despite the declining spread of the viral respiratory disease, the OCTA Research Group said Friday.

OCTA Research Fellow Nicanor Austriaco said the NCR’s current reproduction number is at 0.98 from April 16 to 22.

He stressed that the less than one reproduction number should be sustained for several weeks before lifting the community quarantine restrictions.

“You have to sustain the R below one for at least several weeks, and this will take a careful planning with the length of the MECQ,” Austriaco said in an online briefing.

“We urge the national government, as one possible benchmark for changing quarantine levels, is not to exit the MECQ until at least the R is less than .9 in a sustained manner,” he added.

OCTA noted that the average daily cases in the NCR in the past seven days are now at 4,200 compared to 5,200 cases recorded two weeks ago.

However, Austriaco said this is still “somewhat unstable” because not all local government units in the NCR have reported decreasing cases.

“You always have the possibilities that as some LGUs recover, there will be an outbreak in one LGU that will spill over to the adjacent LGUs,” he said.

“We are looking for a consistent pattern of decrease throughout all the 17 LGUs for a significant period of time before we know we have successfully passed through the surge,” he added.

Austriaco also emphasized that hospitals also need to be decongested before restrictions can be further eased.

“How fast we decongest our hospitals depends upon he sustained reproduction number that we are able to maintain in the next few weeks,” he said.

The NCR and four provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, and Laguna have been placed under modified enhanced community quarantine until April 30.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said that the government is not yet satisfied with the current decline in cases.

It also remains unclear on whether the MECQ in the NCR Plus will be lifted or extended after April 30 as the Inter-Agency Task Force is still evaluating the current COVID-19 situation in the country before it submits a recommendation to President Rodrigo Duterte. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Misamis Oriental confirms detection of one Delta variant case; pushes for stricter measure

Maris Federez   •   July 21, 2021

Misamis Oriental Governor Yevgeny Vincent “Bambi” Emano on Tuesday confirmed the detection a Delta variant case in the province.

On Tuesday’s edition of the government’s Laging Handa program, Emano reported that the local government has conducted isolation on the family of the individual who was found positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Delta variant.

“Sa awa ng Dios ang mga kasamahan niya sa bahay ay na-isolate na natin. Started with one worker of the bank and ito pong katulong niya. Tapos randomly nakunan ng blood sample para dun sa UP Genome Center and found out to be positive dun sa Delta variant,” the governor said.

Emano said two of the four close contacts were found negative for COVID-19 and the other two were found positive for the virus. Their blood samples were sent to Manila for genome sequencing to find out if the Delta variant has also spread within the family.

The governor said that while the provincial government is prepared should the result of the two blood samples yield positive, they will still push for stricter measures in the province that, to date, has 340 active COVID-19 cases, one of which is the said Delta variant positive.

“Sa pangunguna po ni chief Gerry Calingatan, ang PHO (Provincial Health Office) po natin at Task Force chief ng IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) ng Misamis Oriental […] nakahanda na po yung plano and stand by and awaiting si provincial director (Col. Raniel) Valones, and Lt.Col. (Ricky) Canatoy on how we will tighten the area pati yung Gingoog City,” Emano said.

“And within the province, sa awa ng Dios, ang ganda na po ng takbo ng mga local government units at MHOs (Municipal Health Office) […] Hopefully when we can get the nod of the IATF national that we will request for an ECQ (enhance community quarantine) for the province of Misamis Oriental so that we will be able to push stricter measures po,” he added.

The governor also admitted having difficulty implementing the different quarantine levels in the entire province. To address this, and upon the recommendation of the IATF Misamis Oriental, even those areas under the modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) are implementing restrictions applied in ECQ areas.

“For dining areas, kahit pwede kami sa 50%, ginawa naming 30%. So we follow the guidelines para hindi na mahirapan that every time na tatawid sa boundary, mapapabago-bago pa yung quarantine level,” he said.

On the other hand, the flow of businesses and transportation sector in the province has remained normal following the guidelines of the IATF, the provincial chief executive said.

Meanwhile, the governor has admitted to experiencing a low supply of COVID-19 vaccines.

He, however, said that the Department of Health regional office has assured that they will increase the allocation of the supply of the vaccine in the province in the next delivery.

“Sa kakulangan, yes, medyo may kulang talaga yung vaccine po natin. Kasi aside sa from the health workers na nag 109% na tayo, sa senior citizens at sa comorbidities, nasa 25% pa lang po tayo sa Misamis Oriental. Dahil nga […] yung allocation sa Misamis Oriental sobrang kokonti,” he said.

“Pero kung tingnan mo naman yung inoculation rate, sa rollout, pinakamataas nga sa buong Pilipinas ang Region 10 and isa yung Misamis Oriental na medyo mabilis mag-inoculate. Kaya nakiusap kami, sumulat ako kay Regional Director Lacuna na kahit magdadagan muna nang kahit 20,000 doses ang Misamis Oriental, hopefully, will help us contain and inoculate muna yung mga bayan malapit sa City of Cagayan de Oro and yung Gingoog City po,” he further stated.

He also assured high public acceptance of the vaccine rollout in the province. Local government units in the province, regardless of any political affiliation, are implementing strategies to encourage the citizens to undergo vaccination, such as discounts on utility bills and grocery purchases.

Emano urges the public to take heed of the guidelines of the local government units on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. —/mbmf

Metro Manila, other areas under GCQ until July 31 – Roque

Robie de Guzman   •   July 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Metro Manila and other areas in the country will ease to a regular general community quarantine (GCQ) classification from July 16 to 31, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque announced Thursday.

In a statement, Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the imposition of GCQ on the following areas:


  • Metro Manila
  • Baguio City
  • Apayao
  • City of Santiago
  • Isabela
  • Nueva Vizcaya
  • Bulacan
  • Cavite
  • Rizal
  • Quezon
  • Batangas
  • Puerto Princesa
  • Guimaras
  • Negros Occidental
  • Zamboanga Sibugay
  • Zamboanga City
  • Zamboanga del Norte
  • Davao Oriental
  • General Santos City
  • Sultan Kudarat
  • Sarangani
  • Cotabato
  • South Cotabato
  • Agusan del Norte
  • Surigao del Norte
  • Agusan del Sur
  • Dinagat Islands
  • Surigao del Sur
  • Cotabato City


The following areas are under GCQ with heightened restrictions until July 31:


  • Cagayan
  • Laguna
  • Lucena City
  • Naga City in Region 5
  • Negros Oriental
  • Zamboanga del Sur
  • Davao City


The following areas will be under GCQ with heightened restrictions until July 22:


  • Aklan
  • Bacolod City
  • Antique
  • Capiz


Meanwhile, the following areas will be under modified enhanced community quarantine from July 16 to July 31:


  • Bataan
  • Cagayan de Oro City
  • Davao Occidental
  • Davao de Oro
  • Davao del Sur
  • Davao del Norte
  • Butuan City


Iloilo City and Iloilo Province shall also be placed under MECQ but only until July 22.

“Kung hindi po mag-improve ang ating mga numero ay possible po na mabago muli ang classification ng Iloilo City at Iloilo,” Roque said in a message.

All other areas in the country will be placed under modified general community quarantine from July 16, 2021 until July 31, 2021, he added.

Gov’t urged to keep prioritizing NCR Plus 8 in COVID-19 vaccine distribution

Robie de Guzman   •   July 13, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The OCTA Research group on Tuesday called on the government to “stick to the plan” of prioritizing the National Capital Region (NCR) and eight other areas in the deployment of COVID-19 vaccines amid still limited supply.

OCTA fellow Prof. Ranjit Rye issued the statement after the government said it plans to deploy over 3 million doses of single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccines to island provinces, including in the Visayas and Mindanao regions.

“The key to success, a short to medium-term success is to stick to a plan. Mayroon na tayong blueprint, iyong NCR Plus 8. Sana po hindi mabahiran ng pulitika ng mga iba’t ibang influences iyong ating plan. If we stick to that plan, the country will move forward. Iyon po ang ating tingin,” Rye said during the Laging Handa public briefing.

The NCR Plus 8 areas include Metro Manila, Cavite, Pampanga, Bulacan, Rizal, Batangas, Metro Cebu and Metro Davao.

Rye said keeping these areas under vaccination priority list will bring an “impact all over the country” and the economy, as well as reduce the number of COVID-19 cases where it is most prevalent.

With the limited supply of vaccines, Rye also stressed that the government should make each jab count by giving it to the priority areas.

“Ang NCR Plus 8 po, kapag ginawa ng gobyerno, hindi lang niya tinutulungan ang NCR Plus 8, tinutulungan niya ang buong bansa, kasi babagsak ang COVID cases doon sa lugar na iyon, mabubuksan ang ekonomiya sa mga lugar na iyon,” he said.

“At iyong effect ng dalawang bagay na ito, will have impact all over the country, kasi ang pagkalat po ng COVID, nanggagaling po dito sa NCR Plus eh, so dito po ang majority of cases,” he added.

Rye noted that at least 10 percent of Metro Manila’s residents have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Kung ma-vaccinate natin between now and August at least 20% – right now, I think it’s below 10% na ang fully vaccinated sa NCR. Imagine kung 20% iyan, we can even imagine MGCQ after that,” he said.

“The faster we can get as many people vaccinated sa NCR alone, ang laki pong impact for the whole country,” he added. “Kaya gusto sana namin i-reiterate – let’s stick to the plan, eyes on the ball and you will see, in just a few months po, ang laki ng impact na kaagad. And right now, we need to do it urgently, kasi nga may banta ng Delta.”

The Philippine government is eyeing to vaccinate up to 70 million people to achieve population protection this year.

So far, more than 13 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the country – 3.2 million of which are fully vaccinated.


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