Also 38 other areas on March 1-15
The government task force on COVID-19 on Sunday approved easing pandemic restrictions in the National Capital Region (NCR) to Alert Level 1 effective March 1 to 15.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) also placed the following under Alert Level 1:
• Abra, Apayao, Baguio City and Kalinga in the Cordillera Administrative Region;
• Dagupan City, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union and Pangasinan in Region I;
• Batanes, Cagayan, City of Santiago, Isabela, and Quirino in Region II;
• Angeles City, Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Olongapo City, Pampanga, and Tarlac in Region 3;
• Cavite and Laguna in Region 4-A;
• Marinduque, Puerto Princesa City, and Romblon in Region 4-B; and
• Naga City and Catanduanes in Region 5.
In the Visayas, also under Alert Level 1 are:
• Aklan, Bacolod City, Capiz, and Guimaras in Region 6;
• Siquijor in Region 7; and
• Biliran in Region 8.
In Mindanao, the areas under Alert Level 1 are:
• Zamboanga City in Region 9;
• Cagayan de Oro City and Camiguin in Region 10; and
• Davao City in Region 11.
The movement of persons regardless of age (with restrictions on crowded and closed spaces and close contact settings) and full capacity in private establishments and government agencies are allowed, subject to minimum health protocols. under Alert Level 1.
Under Alert Level 2 are:
• Cordillera Administrative Region: Benguet, Ifugao, and Mountain Province; Region 2: Nueva Vizcaya;
• Region 3: Nueva Ecija and Zambales; Region 4-A: Batangas, Lucena City, Quezon, and Rizal; Region 4-B: Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, and Palawan; and
• Region 5: Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Masbate, and Sorsogon; (Visayas) Region 6: Antique, Iloilo City, Iloilo, and Negros Occidental; Region 7: Bohol, Cebu Province, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City, and Negros Oriental; and
• Region 9: Eastern Samar, Leyte, Northern Samar, Ormoc City, Southern Leyte, Tacloban City, and Western Samar.
In Mindanao, these areas will be under Alert Level 1:
• Region 9: City of Isabela, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte, and Zamboanga Sibugay;
• Region 10: Bukidnon, Iligan City, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental, and Misamis Oriental;
• Region 11: Davao De Oro, Davao Del Sur, Davao Del Norte, Davao Oriental, and Davao Occidental;
• Region 12: General Santos City, North Cotabato, Sarangani, South Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat;
Region 13 : Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Butuan City, and Dinagat Islands; and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao: Basilan, Maguindanao, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Cotabato City, and Lanao Del Sur.
The Philippines logged 1,038 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the country’s total case count to 3,661,049.
The positivity rate was also at 5 percent, the lowest so far this year, and the lowest since Dec. 27 last year.
There were 47 new deaths reported.
The Department of Health (DOH) reported 1,999 new recoveries, pushing the total number of Filipinos who recovered from the disease to 3,551,687.
There were 52,961 active cases, of which 556 were asymptomatic; 47,910 were mild; 1,417 were severe; 298 were in critical condition.
Some 26 percent of the country’s intensive care unit beds are used, while 13 percent of the mechanical ventilators are also in use.
In Metro Manila, 24 percent of the ICU beds are utilized, while 15 percent of the ventilators are in use.
The government anticipates the return of at least 500,000 more jobs as the NCR and adjacent provinces shift to Alert Level 1.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the government continues to be optimistic that a total of 800,000 workers will be employed over time all over the country as economic recovery progresses, possibly in the first half of 2022.
Based on government estimates, the country’s state of labor is nearing pre-pandemic levels of about the average 5 percent unemployment rate with more labor-intensive industries and tourism-related industries reopening.
With fewer restrictions on business and mobility, the country’s business community will be allowed to further increase capacities, remove physical barriers and work from home will be optional.
The target employment is on top of the efforts to recover jobs through the National Employment Recovery Strategy (NERS) 2021-2022 program, which Lopez said created 5.2 million jobs.
The country’s unemployment rate was down to the current 6.6 percent from 17.7 percent in March 2020, he noted.
Also on Sunday, the president of a doctors’ organization said they are not sure whether the COVID-19 situation in the Philippines is already entering an endemic stage.
“We do not know because we still have to see,” Philippine College of Physicians President Dr. Maricar Limpin told ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo.
“In other countries, we see that the moment they relax virus restrictions, the number of cases still shoots up… We’ve also seen that many in other countries still die from COVID-19,” Limpin said.
In an endemic phase, there should be fewer deaths despite continued COVID-19 infections, Limpin said.