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Government readying for new normal, defends Alert 2

Helen Flores - The Philippine Star
Government readying for new normal, defends Alert 2
Residents buy from the many pop-up stalls which offer an assortment of local or foreign food choices as they dine in alfresco along the Cristobal Food Street in Sampaloc, Manila on Sunday night, Feb. 13. 2022.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang yesterday defended the government’s decision to maintain Alert Level 2 in the National Capital Region (NCR) until the end of the month as it ensures the country’s readiness to transition to a “new normal.”

Cabinet Secretary and acting presidential spokesman Karlo Nograles and Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the government is preparing to shift to Alert Level 1 or the “new normal.”

“What we are just doing right now…we are preparing to transition already. If we use our metrics of case trends and health care utilization, NCR is really low risk. But of course, we need to prepare the environment where, when we ease restrictions, it would be safe for our people to go out,” Vergeire said.

She said all establishments, both public and private, must put in place safety measures like proper ventilation to prevent the transmission of the virus once the restrictions on venue capacity are lifted under Alert Level 1.

“That (downgrade to Alert Level 1) lies in our hands. So it is important that these conditions are met so that we can reach what is called Alert Level 1 if that is what you want to loosely call as the new normal,” Nograles said.

Most parts of the country are under Alert Level 2 except for the provinces of Iloilo, Guimaras, Davao de Oro, Davao Occidental and South Cotabato and Zamboanga and Iloilo cities, which are under the stricter Alert Level 3.

Appeal

During his Talk to the People on Monday night, President Duterte appealed anew to Filipinos to get COVID-19 vaccines as he wants to see almost all Filipinos jabbed before he steps down from office.

“I am pleading to you, in behalf of government, to finally end COVID. And the only way to do it is if most or not all Filipinos are vaccinated. If there is something that would make me happy when I go out of this office, to know that almost everyone get vaccinated,” the President said.

Duterte also lauded and thanked Health Secretary Francisco Duque III for leading the country’s COVID-19 response. “And if there’s anybody I’d like to thank publicly – it’s never too late to say thank you to Secretary Duque, who spearheaded the fight against COVID,” he said.

“The tireless toil of Secretary (Carlito) Galvez (Jr.) and (Interior) Secretary (Eduardo) Año, thank you to all of you; and of course, with the guidance of the DND (Department of Defense), Secretary (Delfin) Lorenzana, many more including (Secretary) Vince Dizon,” he said.

Granular lockdowns

Meanwhile, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Año said that from 605 last week, areas under granular lockdown have gone down to only 319 nationwide, covering 153 barangays in 22 cities.

Cordillera Administrative Region has the highest number of areas under lockdown with 176, followed by Region 1 (97), NCR (22), Cagayan Valley (16), Region 2 (19), Mimaropa (four) and Zamboanga Peninsula (one).

In total, the locked down areas affected some 355 households or 499 individuals.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Dionardo Carlos yesterday said he is backing the decision of the government to extend Alert Level 2 in Metro Manila until the end of the month.

From the 28th spot, the Philippines slid down to 39th among nations with the most new infections, as the country’s COVID-19 cases continue to decline.

Based on the COVID-19 Dashboard of the John Hopkins University (JHU), the Philippines had 617,857 new cases tallied by Feb. 9. On Feb. 15, the country registered 413,884 documented cases in the past 28 days. Overall, the country has had 3,639,942 COVID cases.

According to the COVID-19 Case Bulletin of the Department of Health (DOH), the country posted 2,730 cases on Feb. 14, its lowest single-day tally since Dec. 21. Since Feb. 1, the country’s daily tally registered below 10,000.

Based on JHU data, the countries with the most COVID cases in the past 28 days was the United States (11,809,572), followed by France (7,568,233), India (5,285,281), Brazil (4,477,776), Germany (4,432,965), Italy (3,398,760), Russia (3,302,541), United Kingdom (3,116,390), Spain (2,511,164) and Turkey (2,451,157).

Among ASEAN member-countries, Indonesia was leading with 536,129 new cases, followed by Vietnam (487,314), the Philippines, Thailand (276,813), Malaysia (231,888), Singapore (177,646), Laos (14,297), Myanmar (13,627), Brunei (6,718) and Cambodia (2,647). – Sheila Crisostomo, Emmanuel Tupas, Romina Cabrera

ALERT LEVEL

COVID-19

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