A private group monitoring the pandemic said Metro Manila could move up from a low to a moderate risk for COVID-19 by next week, with 400 to 500 new cases daily.
“At this time we’re still at a low risk in Metro Manila, but by next week, we are projecting a moderate risk,” said OCTA Research Group fellow Guido David.
Low risks means an average daily attack rae (ADAR) of under 1 per 100,000 population, while moderate risks means it is between 1 and 7 per 100,000.
In an interview, David said the positivity rate—or the number of people who test positive for COVID-19—in Metro Manila climbed to 2.7 percent, while Quezon City, Manila and Makati are under “yellow” status, meaning they are preparing for a possible rise in cases.
“Right now, we’re seeing a continuous rise in cases, and it’s quickening in Metro Manila,” David said in a mix of Filipino and English in a televised briefing.
“We had 188 cases yesterday. It might increase to 200 to 300. In fact, our projection by end of June is that it might increase to 400 to 500,” he said.
David urged employers to implement a flexible work arrangement to allow their employees to work from home to avoid virus transmission.
“Let’s hold off the return to onsite work. I’ve heard that on June 15, many will return to onsite work. So maybe offices can reconsider this so we can reduce the capacity in the office,” he said.
“Work-from-home will help them save money,” he added, noting the sharp increases in fuel prices.
He also urged the government to ensure that proper protocols are in place as face-to-face classes resume.
He reminded the public to continue wearing face masks and to observe minimum health standards.
The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday said the government might raise the capital region’s alert level status from the current Alert Level 1.
But the chairman of the House committee on ways and means on Tuesday said he opposed any further restrictions on economic activities.
“At this point, the alert level system, which is primarily based on the number of COVID-19 cases, no longer makes sense from a health care point of view. Cases will always be there, so we have to measure our ability to live with the cases,” said Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, the panel’s chairman.
Salceda said Executive Order 166 states that the authorities use both total and severe cases, case fatality and vaccination rates as the basis for restrictions.
“So, I don’t understand this talk that a rise in cases might necessitate a higher alert level,” Salceda said.
He also urged the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to consider that every week in lockdown in the National Capital Region (NCR) costs workers about P1.6 billion in salaries.
“If they have no plan for how to replace the nutrition, non-COVID health, and welfare losses from that, then we should be more circumspect about declaring alert levels,” Salceda said.
Earlier, Salceda warned of a possible nutrition crisis due to higher prices of food.
“An alert level increase will worsen the food situation for around 640,000 households in NCR, and could bring them below the hunger line. Again, I hope the IATF considers that,” Salceda added.
He said a lockdown at this late stage in the pandemic, when people have learned to live with the virus, would be counterproductive.
“Let’s keep minimum health standards and empower people to take care of their health. Vaccines, better nutrition, and the certainty that there will be hospital beds when they need them – these things give our people more agency than lockdowns or higher alert levels. Give them that, and allow them to earn a living, and they will be able to make decisions about their health.”
“An alert level will have very marginal, if any, COVID-mitigating effects. But it will cost working families, especially in the informal and self-employed sectors, gravely,” he added.
Metro Manila—or NCR–is home to nearly 13.5 million people, and accounts for about a third of the national economy.
More than 12 million people in the region have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, of whom, more than 3.7 million have received their booster shots.
The Philippines has so far detected 29 cases of the Omicron BA.2.12.1 subvariant, including five in Metro Manila.
The country has also detected one case of the Omicron BA.4 subvariant and five cases of the Omicron BA.5 subvariant.
As of Monday, the Philippines logged a total of 3.69 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, of which, 3,097 are active. Its first infection was recorded on Jan. 30, 2020.