DOH: Alert Level 2 now a possibility in Metro Manila with decreasing cases

DOH: Alert Level 2 now a possibility in Metro Manila with decreasing cases
Security personnel assist individuals in observing health protocols as they queue for the issuance of voters' certificates while others came for the continuation of the voter registration at the Comelec satellite booth inside the SM City Masinag in Antipolo, Rizal on Oct. 18, 2021.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — Health authorities and experts agreed Thursday that coronavirus cases are expected to stabilize back to pre-Delta numbers, indicating a possible shift to Alert Level 2 in the coming weeks. 

Speaking in an interview aired over CNN Philippines' The Source, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that Metro Manila's positivity rate is now at 11%, and 17% at the national level, while its seven-day average of 1,156 was much closer to pre-Delta variant level.

"Before the increase in cases last March and April, we were just averaging in [the National Capital Region] less than 500 a day. So I think that will be a comfortable number," she said.

"If this number continues to decline, and if we continue on to have this kind of numbers and it will continuously decline, then we can again reach that goal, and if that goal will be reached...it is very possible that we can be deescalated in the coming weeks."

The national government decided to downgrade Metro Manila’s alert status to Level 3 amid the decrease in COVID-19 infections. The said alert level will be implemented until the end of October. 

Several establishments are allowed to operate at 30% indoor venue capacity only for fully vaccinated individuals, and 50% outdoor venue capacity, provided that all employees are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

As it currently stands, the seven-day average in the country stands at 6,416. The reproduction rate, which refers to the number of persons a COVID-19 positive individual can possibly infect, stands at 0.47 after recording a 1.03 rate in September. 

OCTA: COVID-19 cases to revert to pre-Delta surge level by end-October

The DOH's assessment was echoed by the OCTA Research Group, which pointed out that the country was projected to tally less than 5,000 new daily cases in its seven-day average based on current trends. 

In Metro Manila, which has since been downgraded to Alert Level 3, less than 1,000 new cases are expected each day by the end of the month. 

"This means we expect numbers to return to pre-Delta surge level by end of October," Dr. Guido David, OCTA Research fellow, said in a tweet. 

To date, health authorities have recorded 2.7 million coronavirus cases in the country, 63,637 of which are still active cases. 

Vergeire, however, was careful to point out that aside from the reproduction numbers, the national government is also looking at healthcare utilization, among others, in deciding on alert levels.

"Hopefully all of us will not be complacent, all of us will work together so we can reach that goal of having the Alert Level 2 in NCR," she also said Thursday. 

Earlier Thursday, Police Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, PNP chief, said he also tasked the concerned police offices and units to make sure that enough policemen are deployed in public areas to assist marshals in implementing safety standards and controlling the crowd. 

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