Metro Manila and four nearby provinces could shift to an "ordinary" general community quarantine (GCQ) by next week as the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) situation in these areas improves further.
Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. on Thursday cited improving Covid-19 figures in the NCR Plus as justification to further ease quarantine restrictions.
NCR Plus, which consists of the National Capital Region (Metro Manila) and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal, is in GCQ "with restrictions" until June 15.
"For Metro Manila, the numbers are looking good. The hospital care utilization remains very low. We're at 53 percent in ICU beds, which is isa sa mga importanteng (one of the important) factor[s] for escalation," Roque said during a virtual press briefing.
"So, I would say in fact that based on the figures, Metro Manila Plus might be looking at a de-escalation. It might not be to MGCQ (modified GCQ), but it could be ordinary GCQ because ang GCQ natin ngayon ay meron pang mga restrictions (our GCQ right now has restrictions)," he said.
From March up to mid-May, NCR Plus was in enhanced community quarantine and modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), following a surge that had peaked to over 200,000 Covid-19 cases.
The quarantine was downgraded to GCQ after Metro Manila recorded a gradual decline in cases.
But even as the situation in NCR Plus improved, the country's new infections remained at the 6,000 to 7,000 mark, with Health Secretary Francisco Duque 3rd attributing the spike to the higher caseloads in the Visayas and Mindanao.
Covid cases jumped to 1,276,004 on Monday, after the Health department reported 6,539 new cases. Over 20,000 people have died from the illness in the country.
Roque said the government was monitoring 13 areas, including President Rodrigo Duterte's hometown Davao City, that were in MECQ.
On Monday, Duterte warned of stricter lockdown measures following rising quarantine violations, particularly in Bacolod in the Visayas and Cagayan de Oro in Mindanao.
"As we go along with this journey ridding the pandemic from our country, we will adopt measures that would be commensurate to the gravity of the situation.... We might calibrate our response to the intransigence that you will show," the President said.
He said the government has the "power to control" the movement of people, but he did not specify what those stricter measures might be imposed.