No need for stricter lockdown yet amid Covid surge — Palace

THE country does not need to shift to a stricter quarantine lockdown despite the surge of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases, Malacañang said.

In an interview over state-run Radyo Pilipinas, Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said in Filipino that there is still adequate hospital capacity to treat Covid-19 patients, which would be the government’s “basis for determining whether it is time to change our quarantine classifications”.

Of 1,900 ICU beds, Roque said 60 percent was still available while 65 percent of 13,500 isolation beds remain unoccupied.

He also said 75 percent of 6,000 ward beds were still available.

“So sa tingin ko po bagamat marami ang nagkakasakit inaasahan natin na 2 to 3 percent lang ang maoospital at sapat-sapat pa po ang ating mga kama para sa mga magkakasakit (So I think, even there is a surge in Covid-19 cases, we expect at least 2 to 3 percent of them will be hospitalized and we have enough hospital beds for those who will get sick),” Roque said.

Roque said there was no reason to close the economy because if this happens, “people will go hungry”.

Roque said that local government units (LGUs) could utilize their power to impose localized or granular lockdowns in areas where there was a surge in Covid-19 cases.

On Monday, the number of new Covid-19 cases exceeded the 3,000-mark for the fourth consecutive day, bringing the total to more than 597,000.

The Octa Research team had warned that the Philippines might see 5,000 to 6,000 new Covid-19 cases per day by the end of March.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday reminded the public to strictly observe minimum health protocols to curb the transmission of Covid-19.

He blamed noncompliance for the surge.

For the month of March, areas under general community quarantine are Metro Manila, Baguio City, Davao City, Batangas, Apayao, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Tacloban City, Iligan City and Lanao del Sur.

The rest of the country has stayed under the least restrictive modified general community quarantine this month.

Current community quarantine classifications are set to lapse after March 31.