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Videoke sessions, birthday parties lead to rise in COVID-19 cases in QC

MANILA, Philippines – Quezon City residents who partied and socialized in violation of strict lockdown protocols contributed to a further spread of coronavirus cases in the city.

City Hall received reports of such violations as Quezon City, like the rest of the Metro Manila, enters a 5th week under general community quarantine (GCQ) where limited gatherings are allowed and most business operations have resumed.

Alarmingly, the unauthorized social gatherings took place in areas under "special concern lockdown" (SCL), said Mayor Joy Belmonte.

SCL is a localized 14-day lockdown imposed by the Quezon City government in specific places with clusters of cases.

Under SCL, there are more checkpoints and stricter enforcement of stay-at-home measures. The city's Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit also conducts testing among all residents.

"There were reports that residents in the said areas had drinking sessions, boodle fights, wakes that exceeded limitations in duration and number of attendees, and even played basketball and volleyball," said Belmonte in a press release.

In GCQ areas, only outdoor non-contact sports like jogging, badminton, biking, and skateboarding are allowed.

The city's epidemiology bureau also traced transmission to video sessions and birthday parties.

As of Friday morning, Quezon City has 3,707 confirmed coronavirus cases, still the highest in Metro Manila. A total of 239 residents have died from the disease.

Seven areas are under special concern lockdown:

Warning to barangays. To prevent more violations from taking place, Belmonte met separately with all 142 barangay captains of the city.

She warned them that barangay officials who fail to enforce quarantine rules may face administrative cases.

Barangay captains are tasked with strictly enforcing mask-wearing, physical distancing, and the ban on mass gatherings.

However, starting July 10, religious gatherings occupying only 10% of a venue will be allowed in GCQ areas like Metro Manila.

To improve implementation of quarantine restrictions, the Philippine National Police, barangays, and Quezon City police will release joint protocols on apprehending and penalizing violators. – Pia Ranada/Rappler.com