President Rodrigo Duterte (Presidential Photo)

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has downgraded the quarantine classification in Cebu City to a less restrictive general community quarantine (GCQ) from a more stringent modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).

In a taped public address aired on state-run PTV-4 on Friday morning, Duterte also announced his decision to retain the GCQ status in Metro Manila, the epicenter of the country’s coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) outbreak, due to the unabated spike in infections in the metropolis.

As of June 30, Metro Manila has recorded 48,389 Covid-19 cases, with 34,489 recoveries and 1,013 deaths, according to the Department of Health’s Covid-19 tracker.

Duterte’s latest decision came despite Malacañang’s repeated warnings that Metro Manila could be once again placed under MECQ, which is second to the most stringent community quarantine if the situation worsens.

The provinces of Bulacan, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal, as well as the cities of Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, and Zamboanga, will also be under GCQ beginning August 1, he said.

In a press statement, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said GCQ would also be implemented in Talisay City, Minglanilla, and Consolacion in Cebu province.

Duterte said the rest of the country would be placed under modified GCQ until August 15.

“The rest of the Philippines (will be under) modified general community quarantine. Itong mga sinabi ko, tiis-tiis muna kayo (You just have to be patient for now),” he said.

On Wednesday, Malacañang said there would be “major changes” in the government’s Covid-19 response after the announcement of new quarantine classifications in the country.

Instead of relying on quarantine classifications, the national government opts to be more “innovative” when it comes to its Covid-19 response.

“Strict” localized lockdowns

Roque said “strict” localized lockdowns would be implemented in villages in Metro Manila and Calabarzon that have “80 percent” of Covid-19 cases.

“Ito pong mga lugar na ito ay ipapaalam natin sa publiko through publication (These places will be announced to the public through publication),” Roque, who was with Duterte, said.

He said there would also be stringent enforcement of minimum health standards, such as strict social distancing, washing of hands, and use of face masks, and massive targeted testing, intensified tracing, quarantine of close contacts, and isolation of confirmed cases would likewise be pursued.

Roque also said government hospitals in Metro Manila and Calabarzon are directed to increase their Covid-19 hospital beds to up to 30 percent to 50 percent.

Private hospitals are enjoined to increase their hospital beds dedicated to Covid-19 to up to 20 percent to 30 percent, he said. (PNA)