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MALACAÑANG has downgraded Metro Manila and the adjoining provinces of Rizal, Laguna, Cavite and Bulacan (NCR Plus) under a less stringent Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine effective Monday until the end of the month.

In an announcement aired over the government-run television station, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that aside from the NCR Plus, Region 2’s Santiago City, Quirino and Abra have been placed under MECQ.

Declared under general community quarantine were Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Iligan City, Davao City, Lanao del Sur and Quezon province.

The rest of the country stays under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) status.

A day before the announcement, the Philippines logged its highest number of active cases yet, at 190,245. It also saw the second-highest single-day tally of new cases, with 12,674.

In addition, intensive care unit (ICU) beds in hospitals in Metro Manila reached critical levels, at around 86 percent occupancy. It had been already at the high-risk level, or between 70 percent and 85 percent occupancy, for the past 3 weeks.

Later on Saturday, the Department of Health (DOH) reported 382 new cases of 4 different variants of COVID-19, and most of these were from local cases rather than from returning Filipinos.

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