QUARANTINE CHECKPOINT.  Police personnel conduct a checkpoint along E. Aguinaldo Highway at the boundary of the cities of Imus and Dasmariñas in Cavite on Monday (March 29, 2021). The setting up of checkpoints is in compliance with the government’s implementation of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from March 29 to April 4, 2021 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). (MNS photo)

MANILA, Mar 29 (Mabuhay) — The government reimposed the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) over Metro Manila and neighboring provinces to stop active COVID-19 cases from climbing to 430,000 by the end of April, the Department of Health (DOH) said Monday.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said projections by modeling tool FASSSTER showed that “further exponential increase [is] likely” if “we are not going to impose harder lockdowns or harder measures.”

“They said that if we don’t implement immediate and harder measures, we will see 430,000 cases by April 30 nationally and 350,000 cases in NCR alone by the end of April,” she said in a briefing.

Vergeire said Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, and Laguna—the provinces part of the “bubble”—are already at high to critical risk based on the two-week growth rate and average daily attack rate of COVID-19.

The health official also lamented that the country’s health system is “choking,” with healthcare utilization rates reaching 63% in Metro Manila and 58% in Calabarzon.

“Our main objective in implementing stricter community quarantine is for us to have our health system capacity be manageable enough,” she said.

Areas in the “bubble” will be under ECQ from March 29 to April 4.

Vergeire explained that its effects will not be immediately evident due to the incubation period of the coronavirus, which takes up to 14 days.

“This ECQ aims to slow down the surge of cases, stop the spread of the variants, allow the health system to recover, and of course, to protect more lives,” she said.

The Philippines has 105,568 active cases as of Sunday afternoon. The national tally has reached 721,892 with 603,154 recoveries and 13,170 deaths. (MNS)

READ NEXT: Philippines records 9,475 new COVID-19 infections; total now at 721,892