REDUCED CASES. Aurora Boulevard in Cubao, Quezon City is nearly deserted on Maundy Thursday (April 1, 2021). OCTA Research reports that the average new daily Covid-19 infections and the infection growth rate in NCR Plus dropped following the implementation of enhanced community quarantine. (PNA photo by Robert Oswald P. Alfiler)

MANILA – The average new daily Covid-19 infections in NCR Plus dropped following the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), OCTA Research said on Friday.

OCTA Research, a group of independent researchers from the University of the Philippines, noted that the average number of daily Covid-19 cases decreased to 4,899 in Metro Manila from March 25 to April 1.

The latest figure, the group said, is 19 percent higher than the previous week but “much lower compared to previous weekly increases of 60 percent.”

OCTA attributed the significant decline to the imposition of ECQ, the most restrictive community quarantine classification, in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal.

“The ECQ had a greater effect in reducing the reproduction number compared to the GCQ (general community quarantine),” OCTA Research’s statement read.

On Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte retained the ECQ status over NCR Plus until April 4.

OCTA Research said Covid-19 infection growth rate in NCR Plus declined to “40 percent or less.”

“[The result] indicates that the interventions imposed by the national government, in particular the ECQ, were effective in slowing the growth of the pandemic in NCR Plus,” it said.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque admitted Tuesday that there is a “50-50” chance of extending ECQ in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases will meet Saturday to discuss the fate of NCR Plus.

Figures explained

On Friday, the Philippines logged 15,310 additional Covid-19 cases, bringing the total case count to 771,497.

There were also 434 new recoveries raising the total to 604,368 or 78.3 percent of 771,497 confirmed infections.

Some 17 fatalities were added to the 13,320 total.

The Department of Health (DOH) explained that the new infection tally reached over 15,000 because it failed to add the 3,709 cases that should have been reported on Wednesday.

“On March 31, 2021, the DOH reported only 6,128 new cases due to CovidKaya system issue. After system checks, validation and deduplication were made, 3,709 additional cases were confirmed. These cases were added to today’s cases, thus totaling to 15,310,” the agency said.

DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire also said the numbers will rise as rapid antigen testing will be used for those with symptoms, those who were exposed to a patient, or close contacts of confirmed cases in NCR Plus.

The upward trend in Covid-19 cases is also driven by new variants.

Surges worldwide

Apart from the Philippines, other countries have been forced to reinforce tougher measures against Covid-19 due to the sudden surge in infections. These include France, Canada, India, Japan, and Germany.

Euro News reported a partial lockdown already in place in Paris will be extended across the whole of France, as announced by President Emmanuel Macron, to fight a third wave of Covid-19 that resulted in tens of thousands of cases each day and hundreds of deaths. 

Schools will close, travel restrictions and a night curfew will be imposed, and there will be a ban on going more than 10 kilometers from home.

In Canada, the Ontario government imposed a province-wide "emergency brake" starting Saturday that will be in place for at least four weeks, CBC reported.

"We are facing a serious situation and drastic measures are required to contain the rapid spread of the virus, especially the new variants of concern," Premier Doug Ford said in a statement.

The Diplomat reported Osaka and two other areas in Japan are under new virus control steps starting April 1 as infections rise less than four months before the Tokyo Olympics.

Osaka, neighboring Hyogo, and Miyagi in the north reported “sharp increases” in daily cases since early March.

Germany is also extending its lockdown until April 18, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced early Tuesday, as reported by During their so-called Easter Holidays from April 1 to April 5, shops, including grocery stores, will “largely have to close.”

In India, 81,466 new cases were reported in the last 24 hours, its biggest single-day tally in six months. reported the government is mulling to impose a new lockdown.

Quarantine status

Santiago City in Isabel and Quirino province are under modified ECQ from April 1 to 30 and April 1 to 15, respectively.

Cordillera Administrative Region, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Batangas, Tacloban City, Iligan City, Davao City, and Lanao del Sur are under GCQ until April 30.

All other areas in the Philippines are under modified GCQ, the least restrictive quarantine status, for the entire April. (PNA)