MAYORS IN Metro Manila have recommended to extend the quarantine measures that are in effect until end-August while the national task force on the coronavirus response were still meeting as of Monday late afternoon on what will be the lockdown status of the capital starting Sept. 1.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque said the mayors, who met with the task force on Sunday, want to keep the general community quarantine (GCQ) category with easing of some rules such as shortening the common curfew hours.

Mr. Roque said various factors are still being assessed, including the capacity of health care facilities and the continued increase in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases in the capital.

“Pinag-uusapan pa po nila, tinitingnan po iyong critical care capacity, tinitingnan po iyong case doubling rate at malalaman po natin maya-maya lamang po, mag-iinspeksiyon lang si Presidente (They are still discussing, they will look at the critical care capacity, case doubling rate, and we will learn their decision later, the President will just inspect),” he said in an interview with Teleradyo Pilipinas.

Meanwhile, Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said the government is considering a shift to one month-long period for the declaration of quarantine status from the previous two-week cycles.

“Ang pinaka-benefit po nito, of course, mas may stability ho sa ating pagkilos, sa pag-prepare ng reopening of the economy. Hindi nagbabago-bago (The main benefit of this, of course, is more stability in our movements, in preparing the reopening of the economy. Not a shifting) every 14 or 15 days,” Mr. Lopez said in a Palace briefing on Monday.

He added that the government is leaning towards an overall easing of restrictions with strict lockdowns to be imposed in smaller areas where there are surges in COVID-19 cases.

Mr. Lopez, a member of the task force, said he believes the country could eventually shift to the more relaxed modified GCQ category as long as the system to contact trace, isolate, and treat patients is firmly in place.

Metro Manila, also referred to as the National Capital Region (NCR), is the country’s economic center and has also been the hotbed of COVID-19 transmissions.    

As of Aug. 30, the capital accounted for more than half of the country’s total COVID-19 cases at 122,174.

The Department of Health (DoH) reported 3,446 new cases on August 31, bringing the national total to 220,819.

Metro Manila accounted for 1,900 of the new cases, while the nearby provinces of Laguna, Cavite, and Pampanga each had over 100.

There were 38 new deaths, bringing the toll to 3,558, while new recoveries stood at 165 for a total of 157,562.

More than 2.4 million individuals have been tested, according to the Health department. — Gillian M. Cortez, Jenina P. Ibañez and Vann Marlo M. Villegas