THE GOVERNMENT is targeting to implement eased quarantine rules nationwide within the first quarter 2021, Malacañang announced on Tuesday.

“Our aim is to have all areas across the Philippines under MGCQ by the first quarter of next year,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr., speaking in mixed English and Filipino, said in a briefing on Tuesday.

He was referring to the modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), the most relaxed level wherein most businesses and public transportation are allowed to operate subject to minimum health protocols.

Most parts of the country are already under MGCQ. Only Metro Manila, Batangas, Iloilo City, Bacolod City, Tacloban City, and Lanao Del Sur are currently under the stricter general community quarantine.

The announcement came as the Department of Health reported 1,772 new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infections on Tuesday, bringing the total to 387,161.

The death toll rose by 49 to 7,318, while recoveries increased by 153 to 348,967.

There were 30,876 active cases, of which 82.5% are mild, 10% did not show symptoms, 2.7% were severe, and 4.8% were critical.

Pampanga reported the highest number of new cases with 154, followed by Quezon City with 115, Laguna with 83, Baguio City with 70, and Manila with 69.

Meanwhile, National Task Force Against COVID-19 Chief Implementer Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. on Tuesday said the government will strengthen its ties with the private sector in the procurement and distribution of vaccines.

In a briefing on Tuesday, Mr. Galvez discussed the implementation plan on COVID-19 vaccines, which includes the crucial cold storage in the distribution chain.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Monday announced the appointment of Mr. Galvez, a retired military general, as the “vaccine czar.” — Gillian M. Cortez and Charmaine A. Tadalan