A total of 171 small areas are under granular lockdown in the National Capital Region (NCR) based on Philippine National Police data, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said Sunday —a threefold increase in three days since the system started.
PNP spokesperson Brigadier General Ronaldo Olay later said in a separate interview on Super Radyo dzBB that they were monitoring 93 barangays under lockdown.
A total of 244 cops and 304 force multipliers were monitoring the areas, he added.
On Thursday, the Department of Interior and Local Government said 57 areas in Metro Manila had been placed under granular lockdown, with 36 of them in villages under the Quezon City Police District.
Granular lockdowns are micro-level quarantines for areas classified as "critical zones" by the local government unit. According to officials, these lockdowns could be implemented on a house, compound, street or building with high cases of infections.
Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya earlier emphasized that areas to be placed under granular lockdown were critical nodes, where there was clustering of cases and active transmission of COVID-19.
The NCR was placed under Alert Level 4 starting September 16.
In other developments, nearly 37,000 violators of minimum public health standards were accosted in Metro Manila in the first three days of the implementation of alert levels and granular lockdowns, the PNP said.
Of the 36,854 who were apprehended, half were given warnings, 44 percent were fined, and the remaining were taken to police stations to face charges for other offenses.
Based on the government's new guidelines, areas under Alert Level 4 — the second highest alert level in the new scheme — are those with COVID-19 case counts that are high or increasing while total beds and ICU beds are at high utilization rate.
Alert Level 4 could be extended for two more weeks in NCR after September if it would result in lower COVID-19 infections, National Task Force against COVID-19 spokesperson Restituto Padilla said Saturday.
Meanwhile, the OCTA Research Group said the Philippines might have reached the peak of its latest COVID-19 surge as it recorded a weekly negative growth rate for the first time since May.
OCTA Research Fellow Guido David said: "We haven't seen this pattern when there's a negative growth rate since last April or May when we had a surge and we’re starting to recover from the surge."
In an interview over Teleradyo, David said another important disclaimer was that the country was seeing this now, but it could still change.
However, he noted that the decline of cases could speed up, or it could reverse, it could rise again.
The country's virus reproduction rate, David said, was at 1.16 percent, and Metro Manila's was 1.18 percent.
Aside from Metro Manila, he said Cavite, Laguna, and Bulacan had registered a negative growth rate.
David’s pronouncement is contrary to the assessment of the Department of Health on the surge of new COVID-19 infections.
The OCTA statement emerged as the Philippines confirmed 19,271 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the country’s total to 2,366,749 as the more transmissible Delta variant continued to spread.
The Department of Health also reported 25,037 new recoveries, pushing the total number of Filipinos who recovered from the disease to 2,151,765.
This means that the country had a total of 178,196 active cases as of 4 p.m. Sunday.
At the same time, 205 new deaths were also reported, bringing the country’s death toll from the disease to 36,788.
In a public briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Saturday said the new COVID-19 cases in the country had not yet shown signs of slowing down as 94 areas remained in the highest virus alert level while infections in the NCR are still growing.
Vergeire said 94 areas were under Alert Level 4; 18 were under Alert Level 3; and nine were under Alert Level 2. No area in the country was under Alert Level 1.
The country logged 23,134 more COVID-19 cases on Saturday, the second-highest record on new coronavirus cases.
The highest record, 26,303, was listed by the DOH on September 11.
"It's the second highest number. But the other Saturday was the record high. So, if we compare the two, the cases declined, and everyday we're having a negative growth rate," noted David.
"If it continues to decline week to week... if there's consistent negative growth rate, we're starting to see a pattern," also said David.
David said the decline in the country's infection was still slow as some regions were recording a rise in infections. These are Western Visayas and Ilocos, he said.
According to the OCTA Fellow, the country might see on Monday, September 20, the effect in the trend of the recent government interventions.
"So, what we are seeing now are effects of the implementation of the modified enhanced community quarantine. Yesterday's (September 18) announced data is from cases that actually happened September 15, since there is usually a lag of three days in reporting," he explained.
As of September 16, more than 18 million individuals in the country have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
This represents more than 23 percent of the government's target to achieve herd immunity.
In related developments, ABS-CBN News has been tracking the number of vaccinations since March, and as of Sept. 16, less than 18 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This means thatthe government has reached just 23 percent of its target after more than six months.
Nearly 18 million individuals in the country have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as of Sept. 16, representing more than 23 percent of the government's target to achieve herd immunity.
Government economic managers lowered the growth target for the second time this year, citing the tighter restrictions reimposed to check the spread of the Delta variant.
Worldwide, the novel coronavirus has infected almost 228 million people and caused 4.69 million deaths since it was first reported in Wuhan, China in late 2019 according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
The United States remains the most badly affected country with over 42 million infections and over 673,000 deaths.
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