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Metro Manila stays under alert level 3 until end-January



Metro Manila will remain under alert level 3 until the end of the month despite an increasing number of Covid-19 cases in the region, Malacañang announced Friday.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) had extended the imposition of existing restrictions in the capital region until 31 January, heeding the call of business groups to keep establishments open.

The Palace official also announced that other provinces are classified under alert level 3 from 16 to 31 January.

These include: Baguio City, Ifugao, Mountain Province, Dagupan City, Ilocos Sur, City of Santiago, Cagayan, Angeles City, Aurora, Bataa, Olongapo CIty, Pampanga, Zambales, Rizal, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Lucena City, Marinduque, Romblon, Camarines Norte, Catanduanes, Naga City, and Sorsogon.

Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Guimaras, Lapu-Lapu City, Bohol, Cebu, Negros Oriental, Ormoc City, Biliran, Eastern Samar, Leyte, Nothern Samar, Southern Leyte, and Western Samar in the Visayas were also classified under alert level 3.

Also placed under the said scheme are the City of Isabela, Zamboanga City, Zamboanga Del Sur, Bukidnon, Iligan City, Misamis Occidental, Misamis Oriental, Davao Del Sur, Davao Del Norte, General Santos City, South Cotabato, Surigao Del Sur, Agusan Del Norte, and Lanao Del Sur in Mindanao.

From 14 January until the end of the month, Benguet, Kalinga, Abra, La Union, Ilocos Norte, Pangasinan, Nueva Vizcaya, Isabela, Quirino, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Quezon Province, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Camarines Sur, and Albay will also escalate to stricter alert level 3, said Nograles.

Aklan, Capiz, Antique, the cities of Bacolod, Cebu, Mandaue, and Tacloban in the Visayas, as well as Cagayan de Oro City, Davao City, Butuan City, Agusan del Sur, and Cotabato City in Mindanao will also be reclassified to alert level 3 during the same period.

Meanwhile, placed under a more lenient alert level 2 are Apayao, Batanes, Palawan, Masbate Siquijor, Zamboanga Del Norte, Zamboanga Sibugay, Camiguin, Lanao Del Norte, Davao De Oro, Davao Occidental, Davao Oriental, North Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat, DInagat Islands, Surigao Del Norte, Basilan Maguindanao, and Sulu.

Under alert level 3, restaurants and eateries, personal care establishments, fitness studios and non-contact sports venues, cinemas, amusement parks, and churches are allowed to accommodate fully-vaccinated individuals.

Indoor operations are limited to 30-percent venue capacity, while outdoor operations are up to 50 percent.

It expands to 50-percent of indoor establishments and 70-percent of outdoor establishments under alert level 2.

The Philippines’ coronavirus caseload surged to 3.09 million on Thursday after authorities reported 34,021 additional infections — the highest single-day tally since the pandemic began.

Half of the newly-detected cases were logged in Metro Manila.

Health experts have admitted that the number could be higher with the country’s limited testing capacity.

Testing laboratories have been overwhelmed due to the infection surge, and many Filipinos who had close contacts with Covid-stricken individuals and those exhibiting symptoms are not tested.

Since the exponential growth in cases in early January, the government has been testing 50,000 to 70,000 samples a day.

Majority of the sick are exhibiting mild symptoms, which experts attributed to the region’s high vaccination rate. Some 10 million of the metro’s 14 million population have been fully vaccinated against coronavirus.