No recommendation yet to put Metro Manila under Alert Level 4 — DILG exec

No recommendation yet to put Metro Manila under Alert Level 4 â DILG exec
A fully-armed police officer patrols a residential area in Barangay Mauway in Mandaluyong CIty as the barangay is placed under "total lockdown" from May 11-13, 2020.
The STAR / Michael Varcas, file

MANILA, Philippines — There is no recommendation yet to put the National Capital Region under an even stricter Alert Level 4 in the face of COVID-19 cases shooting up because the conditions for it are not there yet, an official of the Department of the Interior and Local Government said.

In an interview on "Ted Failon at DJ Chacha sa Radyo5", DILG Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III said that there was a proposal to preemptively declare Alert Level 4 in Metro Manila but that the pandemic task force's Sub-Technical Working Group on Data Analytics, in consultation with the capital region's mayors, decided against it because the metrics for more restrictions have not been met.

Densing said that healthcare utilization in the National Capital Region was still "between low and moderate" when they met Friday night. He said that hospital beds were at 49% capacity and ICU beds at 51% capacity in Metro Manila then.

Under the pandemic task force's alert level system, Alert Level 4 is declared where cases are high and increasing, and hospital bed and intensive care utilization are high. The stricter alert level limits indoor capacity for businesses and venues to 10% and 30% outdoors.

"So we decided not to recommend Alert Level 4. If [the healthcare utilization rate] reaches 70%, then we may go into Alert Level 4," Densing said in Filipino, stressing that talk of lockdowns are just rumors. "The recommendation to raise alert levels will come from the Sub-Technical Working Group on Data Analytics."

The rise in cases — the health department tallied a record 28,707 new cases on Sunday — has raised concerns of lockdowns similar to the Enhanced Community Quarantine seen in the early years of the pandemic.

"Alert Level 4 is not a lockdown. The lockdown would be Alert Level 5, we're not yet at that stage," Densing said in Filipino. 

Anonymous audio recordings spread on social media and on chat groups last week advising people to stock up on food and other essential supplies in anticipation of a supposed lockdown that would last until the end of the month.

At least one of the clips claimed that President Rodrigo Duterte might even declare martial law to curb the spread of the virus despite the 1987 Constitution saying this can only be done "in case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it."

The Palace and the Department of National Defense have dismissed these as false information. Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, speaking for the Palace, advised whoever is behind the clip to stop, saying it does not help the situation.

"Hindi ito biro. We're dealing with a real threat that understandably concerns our people," he said. — Jonathan de Santos




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