By Tracy Cabrera
MANILA — Because of the recent spike in Covid cases, the Valenzuela City government has decided to reimpose the previous motorcycle back-riding protocol under the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) that requires a barrier between riders when traveling or passing through the city.
Valenzuela mayor Rexlon ‘Rex’ Gatchalian, however, added that for riders and their back-rides who are living in the same house, Gatchalian pointed out that it would not be necessary to use the barrier, explaining though that they need to provide proof that they are living under one roof.
“Riders and their back-rides who are not related and not living in the same house are required to place a barrier between them, just like the design used by Angkas riders,” the mayor said.
Essential workers or authorized persons outside of residence (APOR) will be allowed to back ride. On the other hand, motorcycles must be privately owned and not for hire. Riders and their back-rides are also required to wear masks and helmets with a full face shield visor.
Meanwhile, Navotas City mayor Tobias ‘Toby’ Tiangco announced that the outpatient department of the Navotas City Hospital has been closed temporarily for two weeks after several of its employees tested positive of Covid-19 and the hospital’s occupancy reached critical level.
“Kung hindi (natin) ito pansamantalang isasara baka hindi na magampanan ng (ating) mga health workers ang pangangailangan ng (ating) mga pasyente, lalo na kung sila rin ay magkakasakit pa,” Tiangco explained.
The mayor added that the public should double their efforts in protecting themselves from Covid-19, especially since the new mutated variants of the disease have been detected in many parts of Metro Manila.
Based on the latest statistics, 6,943 Covid-19 cases have been recorded in Navotas with 26 new ones.
According to the University of the Philippines (UP) OCTA Research Group, the record of Covid-19 cases in the country is fast approaching a record 16,000 cases daily and the group has warned about the prevailing complacency among the populace in following health safety restrictions imposed by the authorities.
The group estimates the daily case count to reach 6,000 by the end of March then surge up to 16,000 in the second week of April, particularly if the public continues to be complacent about the coronavirus threat and if the government will not impose tighter restrictions on international travels.
The recent comparative study of UP OCTA Research showed that Metro Manila logged an average of 370 daily cases in the second week of February. However, during the same period in March, daily cases jumped to 2,226. The average reproduction number in Metro Manila also went up from 1.07 to 1.96 which means one COVID-19 patient can infect two individuals.
The occupancy rate of hospitals and ICU beds in Metro Manila also recorded an increase.
OCTA also revealed that it has yet to assess if the implementation of unified curfew hours and the ban on minors can help reduce or slow down the development of new Covid-19 cases in Metro Manila.
“I think it’s a conservative approach but anything that will help reduce mobility will have an impact in reducing the number of cases or slowing down the trend,” UP-OCTA expert Dr. Guido David concluded. (AI/MTVN)