MANILA – Malacañang on Tuesday said the Philippines is making significant strides in the fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said he was convinced that the quarantine measures implemented by the national government are effective in combatting Covid-19.

Roque noted that the rate of doubling of Covid-19 cases in the country has slowed down further to 10 days.

Only less than 10 people are dying daily of the disease, he said.

“Nagkakaroon naman tayo ng gains laban dito sa Covid-19 (We are having gains in the fight against Covid-19),” Roque said in a virtual presser aired on state-run PTV-4.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night placed Cebu City and Talisay City under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and modified ECQ (MECQ), respectively, until June 30 to arrest the spread of Covid-19.

The general community quarantine (GCQ) classification, on the other hand, was retained in Metro Manila; the provinces of Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Tarlac, Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon, Occidental Mindoro, Bohol, Cebu, Negros Oriental, Siquijor; and the cities of Santiago, Olongapo, Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu, Zamboanga, and Davao.

The rest of the country remains under modified GCQ (MGCQ).

Roque explained that the decision to impose ECQ in Cebu City was based on “science and data.”

He noted that Cebu is the only “individual city” in the country that has the highest incidence of Covid-19.

“Let’s just say na (that) in terms of individual cities, pinakamataas na po ang kaso ng Covid sa Cebu City (Cebu City has the highest number of Covid-19 cases),” Roque said.

He said it was necessary to put Cebu City under ECQ because it serves as a “gateway” to Luzon and the Visayas.

“Dapat mabahala ang lahat. Kung hindi po natin ma-contain ang pagkalat ng sakit dito sa Cebu City, malaki po ang posibilidad na baka kumalat muli sa iba’t ibang parte ng Visayas at pati na po sa Luzon (We have to be worried. If we fail to contain the virus in Cebu City, there’s a big possibility that it might spread to parts of the Visayas and Luzon),” he said.

Cash aid to residents of Cebu, Talisay cities

Roque guaranteed that low-income households residing in Cebu and Talisay cities would receive cash assistance from the national government.

“Sigurado naman po na ang buong siyudad ng Cebu at Talisay ay mabibigyan po ng pangalawang ayuda sang-ayon sa Bayanihan Law (People from the cities of Cebu and Talisay would certainly get the second tranche of cash aid under Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act),” he said.

The PHP200-billion social amelioration program of the national government grants financial aid ranging from PHP5,000 to PHP8,000 to poor families living in areas under ECQ and MECQ.

Manila still the epicenter of Covid-19

While Cebu and Talisay cities are under more stringent quarantine measures, Metro Manila remains to be the epicenter of Covid-19, Roque clarified.

“So I will not conclude that Cebu is the new epicenter. Metro Manila is still the epicenter with 14 million inhabitants,” he said.

Roque, nevertheless, said the government is still optimistic that Metro Manila would graduate to MGCQ from GCQ.

However, Metro Manila residents should expect the implementation of “localized” lockdowns in areas in the metropolis with high Covid-19 cases, he said.

“Ito po ay pamamaraan talaga para mapabagal natin ang pagkalat ng sakit (This is a way to stop the further spread of the disease),” Roque said. “Will we ever graduate to MGCQ? We hope so and that’s what we’re striving for.” (PNA)