President Duterte has approved the recommendation to place the National Capital Region-plus (NCR-plus) bubble under the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) until the end of the month.
In a virtual presser, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque announced that aside from the NCR-plus bubble area, the city of Santiago in Quirino and the province of Abra will be under the MECQ until April 30, 2021.
The following areas, on the other hand, are under the general community quarantine: Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Batangas, Quezon Province, Tacloban City, Iligan City Davao City, and Lanao del Sur.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Philippines will be under the modified GCQ (MGCQ), the least strict quarantine classification.
The NCR-plus bubble area was under the ECQ for two weeks due to the alarming spike in COVID-19 cases in the country.
In his virtual presser, Roque said the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases recommended easing the quarantine restriction of the NCR-plus bubble due to the commitment of public and private hospitals to increase coronavirus (COVID-19)-dedicated beds following the directive of President Duterte to PhilHealth to expedite the payment of COVID-19 claims.
The public and private hospitals in the NCR-plus bubble committed to adding 164 more ICU or critical beds and 1,157 more regular beds for moderate and severe cases.
During the two-week ECQ period, the country was able to add 3,156 beds in the NCR-plus bubble.
In a separate statement, Roque said dedicated COVID-19 beds in isolation, quarantine, and health facilities in the NCR-plus bubble must be increased through the joint effort of the Department of Education (DepEd), the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and the Department of Health (DoH).
There must also be an adequate number of COVID-19 dedicated beds, complementary health human resources, and well-coordinated triage and referral systems in place at the local government units (LGUs), isolation and quarantine facilities, and health facilities.
Roque said hospitals must be decongested through the partnership of hospitals with temporary treatment and monitoring facilities or step-down facilities for mild or moderate care or home care, provided there is proof of capacity to do adequate quarantine or isolation.
In addition, LGUs in the NCR-plus bubble are enjoined to set up their respective local telehealth triaging systems equipped with sufficient medical personnel available to provide immediate medical and patient referral advice.
PhilHealth must ensure the continued responsive and timely payment of reimbursement claims for COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Roque said another measure that must be implemented in the NCR-plus bubble is enjoining the LGUs to prioritize the generation of demand for vaccination to those with the highest risk for severe disease and death, particularly Priority Groups A2 (senior citizens) and A3 (persons with comorbidities) of the National Deployment and Vaccination Plan for COVID-19.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) are directed to ascertain the number of employees who may undertake alternative work arrangements and their impact on the maximum carrying capacity of the subject area.