MANILA – The government will take “new” initiatives to help Metro Manila combat the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), Malacañang said Thursday.
This, after Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque was criticized when he said on Wednesday that Metro Manila would be a “living experiment” in the country’s fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a virtual press conference aired on state-run PTV-4, Roque said his statement was misunderstood.
“Well, siguro po, hindi niyo lang naintindihan pero meron po tayong mga bagong initiatives na sisimulan (Perhaps, you have misunderstood but [what I meant was] we will take new initiatives),” he said.
Amid the spike in Covid-19 cases in Metro Manila, Roque told CNN Philippines on Wednesday that the country’s metropolis would be a “living experiment.”
He failed to provide details about the supposed experiment but said it would be “successful.”
In his latest statement, Roque acknowledged that he should not have used the term “experiment”.
“Hindi naman po talaga siya completely experiment. Siguro po ang tamang salita diyan ay ‘pilot’ at saka ‘modeling.’ So siguro po, hindi nga tama yung word na experiment (It’s not completely an experiment. Perhaps, the right words are ‘pilot’ and ‘modeling.’ So perhaps, the word ‘experiment’ was not right),” he said.
Roque explained that one of the new initiatives to be applied in Metro Manila is the use of pool testing to boost the Covid-19 testing capacity in the country’s metropolis.
He said pool testing, which makes use of one reverse transcription – polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test kit for at least 10 persons, would expand the actual testing to “10 times.”
The average cost of one RT-PCR test kit is PHP3,000 but 10 persons can split the bill and pay just PHP300 each.
“Pagdating po doon sa experiment, ang dapat po siguro, ipa-pilot na natin yung tinatawag nating pool testing na talagang would (When it comes to the experiment, we have to conduct the pilot study for pool testing that would really) increase by 10 times our actual testing capacity,” Roque said.
As of Thursday, Metro Manila has logged 46,687 Covid-19 infections, based on the Covid-19 tracker uploaded on the website of the Department of Health.
There are still 31,275 active Covid-19 cases in Metro Manila, the tracker bared.
About 14,406 Covid-19 patients in the area have already recovered, while some 1,005 infected individuals have succumbed to the disease.
President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to announce the new quarantine classifications in the country on Thursday.
Malacañang earlier raised the possibility that Metro Manila, which is currently under general community quarantine, might be placed anew under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), which is second to the most stringent community quarantine imposed by the government.
Roque, however, declined to confirm whether the quarantine status in Metro Manila would revert to MECQ after July 31.
“I will not preempt the President. Pero gaya nang sinabi ko (But as I said), it will not be business as usual,” he said. (PNA)