Manila to be placed under 2nd-highest Covid alert

Manila: The Philippines government will place Metro Manila, were over 13 million people currently reside, under Covid-19 alert level 4, the second-highest, from Thursday onwards due to increasing number of confirmed cases.

Under alert level 4, the government will ramp up active case finding, conduct risk-based testing using RT-PCR swab test, and fast-track vaccination among high-risk groups, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said on Tuesday.

“There will also be intensified granular lockdowns from barangay (the smallest political unit in the Philippines) down to the household level to contain the transmission,” Xinhua news agency quoted Vergeire as saying in a televised press conference.

Local government units will impose hard lockdowns for no less than 14 days on areas tagged as critical zones.

Vergeire said Metro Manila remains “at high-risk” due to high infections and high intensive care utilisation.

“Metro Manila is currently a high-risk case classification as it maintains a moderate risk two-week growth rate and high risk average daily attack rate increased from 30.44 in the previous weeks to 39.09 per 100,000 population in the recent week,” Vergeire said.

She added Metro Manila also has a high-risk intensive care utilisation rate at 77.5 per cent, while bed occupancy is near high-risk classification at 69.5 per cent.

Alert level 4 refers to areas wherein case counts are high and increasing, with total bed occupancy rate and intensive care unit utilisation rate at high level.

Under alert level 4, the government will allow outdoor dine-in services, barbershops, hair spas, beauty salons, and physical, religious gatherings to operate up to 30 per cent of their outdoor seating capacity, regardless of vaccinations status.

These establishments are allowed to operate at a limited 10 percent indoor venue or seating capacity.

Still, they may only cater to individuals who are fully vaccinated against CovidD-19 in addition to their permitted outdoor capacities.

Metro Manila residents below 18 years and over 65 years old, those with underlying health conditions, and pregnant women are not allowed to go out of their houses, except for the purpose of buying essential goods and going to services or work in permitted industries.

Intra-zonal and internal travel are allowed, meaning that Metro Manila residents can move around the capital and its adjacent areas.

Government offices will remain in full operation and must follow at least 20 per cent on-site working capacity backed with work-from-home arrangements.

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Bennu Abalos said curfew will be in place from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. when the capital region shifts to alert level 4.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano said the updated alert levels system, from level 1 to 5, will be fimplemented in Metro Manila until September 30.

He said the government will assess the pilot implementation in the capital region and recommend to President Rodrigo Duterte a possible nationwide implementation later on.

The country has so far registered a total of 2,266,066 coronavirus cases and 35,529 deaths.

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