The country's vaccine czar on Wednesday expressed confidence that the National Capital Region (NCR) will shift to the more relaxed Alert Level 2 due to the continuing decline in the reproduction rate and positivity rate of COVID-19.
Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr, also the chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19, said, however, that Metro Manila’s alert level is still up to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).
"I do not want to preempt the discussion of the IATF. But we know that the numbers are getting better and in Metro Manila, I am so happy and very confident because more than 86 percent of the population are now fully vaccinated," Galvez said.
He said the vaccination would go up to 90 percent once the pediatric vaccination is expanded.
“The good thing about here in Metro Manila, we don't see hesitation even in the administration of first doses... So we are very happy about that," Galvez said.
Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, meanwhile, said the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Metro Manila mayors are ready for a possible downgrade of the region's alert level.
"The mayors are already aware of the additional capacity that will be given to establishments under the alert level system and our data is good. We see a continuous decrease in the number of cases in the past two weeks and the vaccination program is in full swing. So with a combination of the ramped-up vaccination program, the decrease in cases, and the additional deployment of police personnel, we are all set once we downgrade Metro Manila to Alert Level 2," he said in an online briefing.
Metro Manila is under Alert Level 3 until Oct. 31.
To date, the Philippines has administered a total of 56,826,389 Covid-19 vaccine doses nationwide, with the average daily vaccination rate in the last seven days has increased to 501,617 doses.
The Philippines logged 3,218 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing the total number of cases to 2,768,849.
The number of new infections was the lowest recorded since the 3,083 cases on May 23.
There were 271 new fatalities, bringing the COVID-19 death toll to 42,348.
The Department of Health (DOH) also reported 6,660 new recoveries, bringing the total recoveries to 2,676,349.
There were 50,152 active cases, of which 73.4 percent were mild, 6.8 percent were asymptomatic, 2.6 percent were critical, 6.2 percent were severe, and 11.02 percent were moderate.
Nationwide, 51 percent of ICU beds, 40 percent of isolation beds, 36 percent of ward beds, and 34 percent of ventilators, were in use.
In Metro Manila, 42 percent of ICU beds, 34 percent of isolation beds, 32 percent of ward beds, and 31 percent of ventilators, were in use.
Meanwhile, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said it is looking at providing free swab tests to persuade more tourists to visit the country's re-opened destinations.
At present, travelers from Metro Manila may avail of a discounted RT-PCR test from the Philippine Children's Medical Center for P750, down from the original price of P3,577.
"Our subsidy with the PCMC is continuous. If things go as planned, we've been asking permission if we could subsidize everything, make it zero already," Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in an ANC interview on Wednesday.
Romulo-Puyat said she was optimistic that more destinations would ease restrictions as the government ramps up its vaccination for the general population as well as the tourism workforce.
"Our goal is we want to vaccinate 100 percent (of the tourist workers) before the Christmas season,” she said.
The country has so far vaccinated 65 percent of its tourism workers across the country, the Tourism chief said.
Also on Wednesday, the independent OCTA Research Group said there was “significant” hesitancy toward COVID-19 vaccines in the Visayas and Mindanao.
OCTA fellow Guido David said the hesitancy was more pronounced among lower income groups.
“So I think that’s where we need to focus our messaging--that vaccines are safe because some of these people believe that vaccines are not safe," David said.
As the number of COVID-19 cases decline, David said vaccination—along with following minimum public health standards—is the key to containing the spread of COVID-19.
“We’re on the right track, we still need testing, we still need to vaccinate more people and although the coverage in the NCR is very high already, I think we’re almost at 8 million people vaccinated in the NCR, the coverage in the provinces is not yet that high so we still need to address these concerns,” he said.
“It’s not just a supply issue. What we’re seeing in fact and based on our surveys, there is a significant hesitancy in many provinces outside the NCR,” he added.
COMMENT DISCLAIMER: Reader comments posted on this Web site are not in any way endorsed by Manila Standard. Comments are views by manilastandard.net readers who exercise their right to free expression and they do not necessarily represent or reflect the position or viewpoint of manilastandard.net. While reserving this publication’s right to delete comments that are deemed offensive, indecent or inconsistent with Manila Standard editorial standards, Manila Standard may not be held liable for any false information posted by readers in this comments section.