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Five alert levels for Metro Manila

IATF pilot-tests a new stab at COVID response with granular lockdowns

The Inter-Agency Task Force yesterday issued the approved guidelines for the pilot implementation of the Alert Level System with granular lockdowns in Metro Manila that will take effect Wednesday.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the new classification framework aims to further curb the spread of COVID-19 and its variants.

“In this new classification framework, we proactively advocate the principles of 3C’s Strategy (Closed, Crowded and Close Contact). We should strive for total health and this can only be realized by carefully balancing our COVID-19 response by considering both the health of our people and the economic health of the nation, which this policy shift is all about,” Roque added.

There will now be five Alert Levels in Metro Manila and not four as earlier announced by some members of the IATF.

Alert Level 1 covers areas where case transmission is low and decreasing and total bed utilization rate and intensive care unit utilization rate are low. All establishments, persons, or activities are allowed to operate, work, or be undertaken at full on-site or venue/seating capacity provided they are consistent with minimum public health standards.

Alert Level 2 covers areas where case transmission is low and decreasing; healthcare utilization is low; or case counts are low but increasing; or case counts are low and decreasing but total bed utilization rate and intensive care unit utilization rate is increasing. Business establishments are allowed to operate at a maximum of 50 percent capacity. An additional 10 percent will be allowed for those with the Safety Seal Certification.

Alert Level 3 covers areas where case counts are high and/or increasing, with total bed utilization and intensive care unit utilization are at increasing rates. Business establishments are allowed to operate at a maximum of 30 percent capacity. An additional 10 percent will be allowed for those with the Safety Seal Certification. Indoor entertainment venues, however, will remain prohibited.

Alert Level 4 covers areas where case counts are high and/or increasing, with total bed utilization and intensive care unit utilization at high rates. Al fresco and indoor dine-in services are allowed at a maximum of 30 percent and 10 percent, respectively. In-person religious gatherings are allowed at 30 percent capacity, as well as indoor barbershops, salons, hair spas, and nail salons also at 30 percent capacity. Indoor venues for meetings, casinos, social events, and indoor sports are not allowed.

Alert Level 5 covers areas where case counts are alarming, with total bed utilization and intensive care unit utilization at critical rates. Guidelines applicated to the Enhanced Community Quarantine shall be observed.

For areas that have been identified as “critical zones” by the local government, granular lockdowns or micro-level quarantine will be declared regardless of alert level.

The authority to impose granular lockdowns, which shall last for a period of not more than 14 days, has been given to the city or municipal mayor.

The micro-level quarantine may cover individual houses where one household member has been confirmed, residential buildings, streets, blocks, puroks, subdivisions and villages.

The government has assured food packs for families living in areas placed under a granular lockdown.

Social Welfare Assistant Secretary Glenda Relova said local government units would provide family food packs in the first seven days of the lockdown, while the DSWD will provide food packs from the 8th to 14th day.

A DSWD food pack costs about P774 and contains four cans of tuna, four cans of corned beef, six kilos of rice, five sachets of coffee, five cereal drink sachets, and two cans of sardines. This is good for a family of five for 3 days, the department said.

DSWD gives three food packs per beneficiary family every week.

In a separate interview on ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo, Interior Undersecretary Epimaco Densing said areas to be placed under a granular lockdown would be advised 24 hours before it is implemented, to give them time to prepare.

This developed as the Philippines logged on Monday 20,745 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 2,248,071, the Department of Health said.

The DOH also reported 163 new fatalities, bringing the death toll to 35,307. It also reported 22,290 new recoveries, bringing the total recoveries to 2,032,471.

Active cases stood at 180,293, of which 86 percent were mild, 9.4 percent were asymptomatic, 0.6 percent were critical, 1.4 percent were severe, and 2.62 percent were moderate.

Nationwide, 74 percent of the ICU beds, 69 percent of the isolation beds, 74 percent of the ward beds, and 57 percent of the ventilators, were in use.

In Metro Manila, 78 percent of the ICU beds, 65 percent of the isolation beds, 72 percent of the ward beds, and 61 percent of the ventilators, were in use.

Positivity rate was at 26.7 percent, with 71,860 COVID-19 tests conducted. International standard is less than 5 percent.

In related developments:

* Out of 748 samples sequenced, government agencies detected 640 more samples of the highly contagious Delta coronavirus variant, the DOH reported Monday.

* A public health advocate said the government should conduct free mass testing and allow only vaccinated workers outside their homes if it would enforce the proposed alert level and granular lockdown policy in Metro Manila.

Mass testing, intensified contact tracing, and increased vaccination should be in place as the policy will grant more mobility to the public, according to Dr. Tony Leachon, who previously served as special adviser to the National Task Force Against COVID-19.

* The Food and Drug Administration has warned the public against claims by companies that nasal spray products could be used to prevent or treat COVID-19.

In an advisory, the state health regulator said nasal spray products were authorized in the country as “medical devices, which are intended for short-term use in the nasal cavity and serve as mechanical barriers from particulates.”

Topics: Inter-Agency Task Force , Metro Manila , Lockdown , COVID-19 , Harry Roque , Enhanced Community Quarantine
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