The general community quarantine in Metro Manila and other urban areas is extended until Jan. 31, President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday, as authorities prepared for a new COVID-19 strain that spreads more easily.
Also under GCQ, the second to the lowest under the country's four-step warning system are: Isabela, Santiago City, Batangas, Iloilo City, Tacloban City, Lanao del Sur, Iligan City, Davao City, Davao del Norte. The rest of the country remains under MGCQ.
Duterte earlier said that a return to strict quarantines is a "possibility" should there be a spike in cases. Officials are preparing for both a possible post-Christmas surge in infections as well as the new strain that was first detected in the UK.
"Stay home if possible. It's for your own good and washing of the hands," he said.
The new variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 has not been detected in the Philippines but its entry is likely, said Health Sec. Francisco Duque. The public is advised to continue handwashing and wearing face masks and face shields. Physical distancing must be observed and crowded places must be avoided.
A pilot of face-to-face classes in January was scrapped because of the new strain, which was also detected in South Africa, Spain, and Singapore.