October 21, 2020 at 01:50 am
Joel E. Zurbano and Willie Casas
There will be no Christmas parties and other merry-making activities in Metro Manila this year to prevent COVID-19 from spreading.
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) General Manager Jose Arturo Garcia Jr. said Metro Manila mayors will issue a resolution recommending a ban on all holiday parties in the National Capital Region while it is under a general community quarantine (GCQ).
The 17 mayors agreed in principle to prohibit holiday parties at a meeting Sunday with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) and the MMDA.
"Christmas parties will not be allowed. These are social gatherings and get-togethers. We can celebrate Christmas in other ways," Garcia said.
He added that there are no guidelines yet, but said everyone is encouraged to avoid parties for health and safety reasons.
Garcia said his agency and some local government units in the NCR have already cancelled their respective holiday parties this year.
Garcia said the country is winning the fight against COVID-19, citing the decreasing number of active cases, especially in Metro Manila, which was placed under a GCQ until the end of October.
Metro Manila mayors are considering extending that until December.
Meanwhile, two cities in southern Metro Manila—Pasay and Taguig—have reduced curfew hours to 12 a.m. to 4 a.m. as agreed in the Metro Manila Council meeting Sunday.
Aside from the shorter curfew hours, the MMC also agreed to enforce two other measures—allow persons aged 18 to 65 years old to go outside their residences in Metro Manila; and to increase the capacity of churches to 30 percent.
Researchers from the University of the Philippines tracking the COVID-19 pandemic said cases in Metro Manila are decreasing continuously along with the rest of the country.
In its report released, the OCTA Research Team said the new reproduction number or the transmission rate of the COVID-19 in Metro Manila fell to 0.70 percent, down from 2 or 3 at the start of the pandemic.
If the reproduction number is less than 1, the disease won’t spread anymore, the researchers said.
The group also said Metro Manila's positivity rate, or the ratio of people testing positive of COVID-19, fell to 6 percent from 8 percent.
But the researchers raised the alarm in Pasig, Makati, Pasay, Mandaluyong, Marikina and Valenzuela due to their high case load and high attack rate or the percentage of the population affected by the disease per day.
Makati, Mandaluyong and Muntinlupa are also above the 70 percent critical level in hospital occupancy, they said.
In Calabarzon, the positivity rate is at 11 percent. The high risk areas in the region include Calamba, Lucena, Santo Tomas, Taytay, Cainta, General Trias and Batangas City.
The Philippines logged 1,640 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, bringing the total to 360,775, the Department of Health (DOH) reported.
Of these, 43,443 are active cases, 83 percent of which are mild, 11.6 percent of which are asymptomatic, 2 percent of which are severe and 3.4 percent of which are critical.
The DOH announced 369 recoveries, bringing to 310,642 the number of patients who have recovered from the disease.
The DOH also reported 17 new fatalities, bringing the death toll to 6,690.
Also on Tuesday, the Light Rail Manila Corp. (LRMC), the private operator and maintenance provider of LRT-1 said it will increase passenger capacity of trains in support of economic recovery.
LRMC said it will adjust passenger loading capacity to 30 percent gradually up to 50 percent later on.
“Rail public transportation is an enabler of our consumer driven economy. Our mission remains to provide safe transportation, and we achieve this using best in class safety protocols. In addition, we study the passenger behavior and target disinfection on the places [that have had the most] contact [with] the passengers,” said Juan F.
Alfonso, LRMC president and chief executive. Darwin G. Amojelar