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Eased metro lockdown eyed for rest of June

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By Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza and Vann Marlo M. Villegas, Reporters

THE GOVERNMENT would probably ease the lockdown in Manila, the capital and nearby cities and provinces this week on decreasing coronavirus infections, according to the presidential palace.

Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna and Cavite would likely revert to a general community quarantine, presidential spokesman Herminio “Harry” L. Roque, Jr. told a televised news briefing on Monday.

These areas have experienced a drop in coronavirus cases in the past weeks, he said, adding that the healthcare system use rates have eased to below critical levels at less than 50%.

“It’s possible to have a lower classification,” Mr. Roque said of the lockdown level. The lockdown in Metro Manila is unlikely to be eased to the most relaxed level, he added.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte is set to announce this week the new quarantine classifications for the next half of the month.

“An ordinary general community quarantine will result in higher percentage capacity, particularly for indoor dining and facilities,” Mr. Roque said. “It may not be the same general community quarantine as before but certainly, there is a bit of opening.”

The Department of Health (DoH) reported 6,426 coronavirus infections on Monday, bringing the total to 1.32 million.

The death toll rose by 57 to 22,845, while recoveries increased by 7,145 to 1.24 million, it said in a bulletin.

There were 59,096 active cases, 1.3% of which were critical, 91.8% were mild, 3.9% did not show symptoms, 1.8% were severe and 1.28% were moderate.

The agency said 12 duplicates had been removed from the tally, nine of which were tagged as recoveries and 10 recoveries were reclassified as deaths. Ten laboratories failed to submit data on June 12.

The coronavirus has sickened about 176.7 million and killed 3.8 million people worldwide, according to the Worldometers website, citing various sources including data from the World Health Organization.

About 160.8 million people have recovered, it said.

‘SERIOUS CONCERN’
Meanwhile, Dumaguete City in central Philippines is the “area of most serious concern” outside Metro Manila, according to the University of the Philippines OCTA Research Group.

In a report, researches said coronavirus infections there had more than the doubled in the past week, while the average daily attack rate was 69.85 for a population of 100,000 people. Dumaguete is “extremely high risk.”

OCTA also noted that the hospital bed occupancy rate in the city was at 68%, while 84% of intensive care unit beds had been used.

Other areas of concern due to increasing cases, high hospital occupancy and high average daily attack rate were the cities of Iloilo, Butuan, Tacloban and the municipality of Polomolok in South Cotabato. Tagum City, Legazpi City and Tagbilaran City were also flagged as emerging hotspots due to rising infections.

Intensive care unit occupancy in Davao City, Iloilo City, General Santos, Tuguegarao City and Koronadal were at critical levels of more than 85%.

Meanwhile, Mr. Roque said the government would study the reopening of leisure establishments such as cinemas and amusement parks.

He said some local governments have asked the National Government to ease their lockdown levels, which pandemic officials would review. About 58% of intensive care unit beds in the country have been used as of June 13, Mr. Roque said.

About 48% of isolation beds and 47% of ward beds have been occupied, while 36% of ventilators have been used. About 46% of ICU beds in the capital region have been occupied.

The palace official said 37% of isolation beds and 32% of ward beds have been used, while 32% of ventilators have been used.

Mr. Roque said 4.6% of the 59,865 active coronavirus cases as of June 13 had been isolated. The death rate was 1.73%, while the recovery rate was 93.7%, he added.

Also on Monday, Metro Manila Development Authority Benjamin de Castro Abalos, Jr. said mayors in the capital region had voted to shorten their curfew hours.

The improving coronavirus situation in the country’s key economic hub prompted metro chiefs to adjust the curfew hours to 12 am to 4 a.m., which will take effect starting June 15.

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