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MANILA – Sen. Risa Hontiveros expressed fears that the government’s move to place the National Capital Region (NCR) to general community quarantine (GCQ) could lead to new wave of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) transmission.Hontiveros said Friday Metro Manila is not yet ready for the downgrading of the community quarantine, citing data from the Department of Health (DOH).On Thursday, the day President Rodrigo Duterte announced the GCQ shift for NCR, the DOH has tallied 539 new COVID-19 cases – the highest number of recorded new cases in a day.“Reading the data available to us, it seems that we have not yet flattened the curve,” Hontiveros said.“Instead, this easing of the lockdown may expose thousands of Metro Manila workers and residents to a new wave of community transmission that will definitely overwhelm our already-embattled health system,” she added.DOH Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire explained the increase in cases is not necessarily new cases but due to the Health’s department’s increased capacity in validating COVID-19 cases submitted by 36 various laboratories.“We expect the numbers to continue to rise over the coming days as we continue catching up with the backlog in validation and as we conduct more tests nationwide,” Vergeire said in a separate statement.Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, for his part, defended Malacanang’s decision to approve the Inter Agency Task Force for the management of the Emerging Infectious Disease recommendation for NCR shift. “Binalanse po natin ang karapatan ng mga mamamayan na magkaroon ng kabuhayan,” Roque said in an interview with GMA Network’s Unang Balita on Friday morning.The NCR was under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from March 16 to May 15, a measure that prohibited mass gathering to prevent COVID-19 transmission, resulting in work stoppage in many industries./PN “This easing of the lockdown may expose thousands of Metro Manila workers,” says Sen. Risa Hontiveros. RISA HONTIVEROS/FACEBOOK