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Duque: NCR shift to alert level 2 likely as Covid cases drop



Metro Manila could possibly shift to a more lenient alert level 2 in the coming days following a significant decline in its new Covid-19 cases, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Monday.

After a series of record-breaking Covid-19 numbers in the first part of January, Duque said cases in the capital region may have hit the peak on 14 or 15 January and are now decreasing.

“Hopefully, it will continue so there it will be more likely to de-escalate to alert level 2, especially for the National Capital Region,” he said in his televised report to President Rodrigo Duterte’s “Talk to the People.”

The region, which currently has 72,382 active Covid-19 cases, shifted from “critical risk” to just “high risk” because of the case trend.

Data from the health department have shown that new Covid-19 cases daily have been decreasing in the capital region since 15 January.

Some 18,422 cases were reported on 15 January. It dropped to 15,959 on 16 January; 13,543 on 17 January; 10,147 on 18 January; 8,376 on 19 January; 9,455 on 20 January; 7,279 on 21 January; 6,646 on 22 January; and 5,433 on 23 January.

The region’s moving two week-growth rate also dropped from 7,225 percent (between 14 to 27 December and 28 December to 10 January) to 65 percent (between 28 December to 10 January and 11 to 24 January), according to Duque.

On the other hand, Metro Manila’s daily attack rate — or the number of cases per 100,000 population over a certain period of time — remains high at 84.56 from 11 to 24 January.

“In fact, it was even an increase from the 51.33 [tallied from 28 December to 10 January] so the region remains under high risk classification,” said the Health chief.

“If we can bring down the [daily attack rate] as soon as possible, we can revert NCR to alert level 2, Mr. President,” Duque said, addressing Duterte. The Chief Executive had no immediate reply.

Local experts have warned that figures may not provide a clear picture of the Covid-19 situation in the region as some cases remain underreported due to the country’s limited testing capacity.

Metro Manila has been under alert level 3 since the start of the year.

Under the scheme, 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 for indoor establishments and 70 percent for outdoor establishments under alert level 2.


Other areas

Outside Metro Manila, the Covid-19 situation on its nearby Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna, and Cavite have also been improving, Duque said.

Cases in the said provinces have also peaked and are now decreasing, while cases in the rest of Luzon areas are plateauing, he added.

Duque, meanwhile, raised concern in some regions which show an increasing trend in Covid-19 cases.

He noted that the Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Cordillera Administrative Region, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Bicol Region, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Davao Region, and Caraga remain at “critical risk” for Covid-19.

Duque called on concerned local government units to monitor and assist hospitals in their areas and to ramp up their vaccination efforts to cushion the impact of increasing Covid-19 cases.

He added that minimum public health standards should be observed to bring down the number of new infections.

“We are guiding our regions to boost their health care capacity as well as their prevention, detection, isolation, treatment, reintegration, and vaccination interventions,” Duque said.

Based on government data, over 57 million Filipinos so far have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, which accounted for 73 percent of the country’s eligible population. More than 6.2 million Filipinos got their booster doses.

On Monday, the Philippines reported 24,938 additional infections, raising the active case count to 262,997.