MANILA, June 11 (Mabuhay) — It will be difficult for the Philippines to achieve New Zealand’s feat of having zero COVID-19 cases, Malacañang said on Wednesday.

In an interview with state-run PTV, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said zero cases would be difficult to attain given the Philippines’ population density, especially in urban centers like Metro Manila, home to almost 14 million people.

“Tatapatin ko po kayo. Medyo mahirap makamit ‘yan ng Pilipinas,” Roque said.

“Eh, tayo sa Metro Manila lang, 14 million na tayo so talagang dikit-dikit na tayo, dahilan kung bakit mabilis kumalat ang sakit. So I’m happy for the New Zealanders, pero limited population po sila at malaking land area,” he added.

New Zealand on Tuesday lifted social distancing restrictions, except for border curbs, after the nation registered no active cases for the first time since late February.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, however, said the elimination of the virus should be a sustained effort.

New Zealand has reported 1,154 infections and 22 deaths from COVID-19. The Philippines, meanwhile, recorded 23,732 cases, with 1,027 deaths and 4,895 recoveries as of Wednesday.

The Philippines’ coronavirus task force was scheduled to meet on Wednesday to discuss whether to further ease restrictions or reimpose lifted quarantine measures starting June 16.

The task force will then present its recommendation to President Rodrigo Duterte, who will make the final decision. (MNS)

ALSO READ: OFWs need to submit names, destinations before returning to PH