By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

The Department of Health on Tuesday said that the National Capital Region (NCR), aka Metro Manila would be placed under Alert Level 4 during the first week of the pilot implementation of the COVID-19 Alert Level System.

The DOH explained that NCR is currently at high-risk case classification while intensive care utilization is also under high risk classification.

“NCR is currently at high risk case classification as it maintains a moderate risk two-week growth rate (TWGR) and high risk average daily attack rate (ADAR). The ADAR increased from 30.44 in the previous weeks to 39.09 per 100,000 population in the recent week. Additionally, NCR has a high-risk intensive care utilization rate at 77.5% while bed utilization is near high-risk classification at 69.5%,” said  DOH Spokesperson Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

Areas under Alert Level 4, the second highest alert level, show high and  increasing case counts with total COVID-19 bed and intensive care beds at increasing utilization rates.

“During this time we must ramp-up active case finding, conduct risk-based testing using RT-PCR, and fast track vaccination among high-risk groups. There will also be intensified granular lockdowns from barangay down to the household level to contain transmission,” said Usec. Vergeire.

A Philippine News Agency report describes Alert Level 4 as follows:

Under Alert Level 4, persons below 18 years old and above 65 years old, those with immunodeficiencies, comorbidities, or other health risks, and pregnant women are not allowed to leave their homes except for obtaining essential goods and services and working in permitted industries and offices.

Indoor visitor or tourist attractions, libraries, archives, museums, galleries, and cultural shows and exhibits; indoor venues for meetings, incentives, conferences, events (MICE); indoor entertainment venues such as cinemas, and venues with live performers such as karaoke bars, bars, clubs, concert halls, and theaters; outdoor and indoor amusement parks or theme parks, funfairs/peryas, kid amusement industries such as playgrounds, playroom, and kiddie rides; indoor recreational venues such as internet cafes, billiard halls, amusement arcades, bowling alleys, and similar venues and staycations are also not allowed to operate under Alert Level 4.

Outdoor or alfresco dine-in services in restaurants and eateries are allowed to operate at 30 percent capacity, regardless of customers’ vaccination status while indoor dine-in services may be allowed at 10 percent capacity, only for fully vaccinated individuals.

Personal care services limited to barbershops, hair spas, nail spas, and beauty salons are allowed to operate at 30 percent, if these services are conducted outdoors, regardless of customers’ vaccination status while indoor services are at 10 percent capacity, only for fully vaccinated persons.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Outdoor religious services are allowed at 30 percent capacity, regardless of vaccination status. Indoor religious gatherings, meanwhile, may be allowed at a limited 10 percent venue/seating capacity, only for fully vaccinated individuals.

Gatherings for necrological services, wakes, inurnment, funerals for those who died of causes other than coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) shall be limited to immediate family members.

Government offices will remain fully operational with at least 20 percent on-site capacity with the implementation of work-from-home and other flexible work arrangement schemes.

In addition, the DOH said based on its spatio-temporal analysis, 80% of new cases in the recent two weeks came from 11%-30% of NCR barangays.

The DOH added that the analysis supports the move to focus on imposing granular lockdowns on selected areas rather than wide scale lockdowns of entire provinces, highly urbanized cities, and independent component cities, which heavily impact the livelihood of Filipinos.

“Additionally, wide-scale lockdowns might no longer be effective since data shows that the majority of Filipinos in NCR were mobile during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) on Aug. 10 than the previous ECQ last April 2021 as more essential activities and workers were allowed,” DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said.

On Wednesday, the DOH recorded 16,989 new COVID-19 infections and 214 deaths, bringing the cumulative totals to 2,283,011 and 35,742 cases and deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, respectively.

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