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Quarantine status ‘likely’ to be relaxed next month

Malacañang raised yesterday the possibility that the quarantine classifications in the country might be relaxed in June.

“Everything else being considered, there is likelihood that the quarantine classification will be eased,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in an online press conference.

Roque made the statement as he cited the significant drop in the average coronavirus disease 2019 daily attack rate, two-week growth rate, and hospital care utilization rate all throughout the country.

He noted that the nationwide average daily attack rate declined to 5.42 per 100,000 population registered on May 9 to 22, from the previous 9.2 per 100,000 population posted on April 4 to 17.

He added that the overall two-week growth rate also dropped from 21 percent to 11 percent.

The overall hospital care utilization rate also decreased to 43 percent on May 25 from 68 percent on April 7 to 16, Roque said.

“So, I guess by way of conclusion, there’s likelihood that the quarantine classification might be relaxed on the basis of formula,” he said.

However, Roque said the implementation of new quarantine status in Metro Manila will be subject to the recommendation of the local government units in the country’s metropolis that “further reopening should be gradual.”

The possible relaxation of quarantine restrictions in June might be announced during President Rodrigo Duterte’s “Talk to the People” on Monday night, Roque said.

“It could be announced by the President himself on May 31 or earlier after the processing of the appeal of LGUs,” he said.

Roque said members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases would also make a recommendation on the country’s implementation of travel restrictions on passengers from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.

The Philippines extended the prohibition of entry of travelers from India and four other countries that are part of the Indian subcontinent until May 31.

The country also decided to expand the coverage of the travel ban by including Oman and the United Arab Emirates after two overseas Filipino workers, who returned from the Arab states, tested positive for India’s “double mutant” B.1.617 variant.

BUDGET FOR OFWS

In the same press briefing, Roque announced that Duterte has approved the additional P5-billion allocation for the repatriation of OFWs.

This developed after Duterte vowed Monday to expedite the return of OFWs, who lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This is for payment of hotel rent that already ballooned because of longer quarantine period,” he said.

All OFWs who will return to the country are mandated to stay in a quarantine facility for 10 days and observe home quarantine for four days, based on IATF-EID Resolution 114.

They are also required to undertake reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction testing on their seventh day in the country.

Earlier, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration sought a supplemental budget of P9.8 billion to fund the food, transportation, and accommodation of returning OFWs.

Roque said the government may look for additional funds to grant OWWA’s request.

BAYANIHAN 3

Roque also thanked the House of Representatives for passing on second reading the Bayanihan to Arise as One bill or the Bayanihan 3 on Tuesday.

Roque said Bayanihan 3, which contains a P401 billion stimulus package to provide more aid to Filipinos amid the pandemic, would make it easier for the government to tap more funds in case it needs a supplemental budget.*PNA

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