Metro Manila will be under the strictest “enhanced community quarantine” or “lockdown” from August 6 to 20 after authorities recognized the threat posed by the Delta variant of the coronavirus.
“This is a painful decision but it is for the good of the people,” said government spokesman Harry Roque in a press briefing on Friday, July 30.
From July 31 to August 5, the national capital will be under a “general community quarantine subject to heightened and additional restrictions.”
“No need for panic buying because we have one week to prepare,” said Roque. Under a lockdown only essential trips and services are allowed.
The national capital with its 16 cities is home to more than 13 million people.
The Philippines has earlier extended a ban on travelers coming from 10 countries including India, Indonesia, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates to Aug. 15 to prevent the further entry of the Delta variant.
Already battling the second-worst coronavirus outbreak in Asia, the Philippines has so far recorded over 1.57 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 27,000 deaths.
The country has reported 216 cases of the Delta variant, but health experts say there could be more undetected cases because of the slow pace of the country’s genome sequencing.
The second wave in the Philippine outbreak peaked in April and after mainly trending low infections have started to rise again in recent weeks.
Currently hospital occupancy in the capital area is 49%, while the rate for intensive care beds is 58%.
With only 7% of the country’s 110 million people fully vaccinated against COVID-19, tens of millions remain vulnerable to virus. The government is aiming to fully immunize up to 70 million people before the year ends.
The National Economic and Development Authority warned that the economy will lose hundreds of billions of pesos while hundreds of thousands of jobs are at stake for each week that the capital is under lockdown.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said the number of poor people will also increase by up to 177,000 while 444,000 more will have no jobs.
President Rodrigo Duterte approves the lockdown after meeting with mayors in the capital who appealed for the imposition of stricter measures in the region.
A study done by independent group OCTA Research noted that Metro Manila could possibly see as many as 2,000 new COVID-19 cases per day by next week.
Currently, the National Capital Region is averaging almost 1,100 new cases per day. OCTA said the reproduction rate of the virus in Metro Manila has climbed to 1.35, indicating sustained COVID-19 transmission. – with a report from Reuters