PH cases at all-time high: 37,207; NCR, 50 other areas still Alert Level 3
The peak of the surge in COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila isn’t going to happen soon, but the government said Alert Level 3 will be retained in the National Capital Region (NCR) until the end of January.
In a Palace briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the peak in the current surge, most likely caused by the Omicron variant of COVID-19, could come as late as the second week of February, in contrast to some independent projections that it was already peaking or “close to peaking.”
“Cases will continue to increase, so let us all remain careful,” Vergeire said in Filipino as she urged all eligible people to get vaccinated.
Vergeire noted that more areas of the country have been placed under Alert Level 3 from Jan. 16 until Jan. 31 as cases increased there.
She said the growth in cases in these provinces would be similar to Metro Manila.
“That is what will happen to them,” she said. “There is a doubling time and the increase is really sudden.”
Vergeire said the government cannot prevent the spread of cases or confine the surge within NCR.
In the previous surge caused by the Delta variant of the coronavirus, other regions of the country saw an increase in their cases two to three weeks after the NCR did. Thus, she said, the Department of Health (DOH) has already told hospitals in the regions to prepare for a surge.
Earlier, acting presidential spokesman Karlo Nograles said the NCR will remain under Alert Level 3 until the end of January.
Nograles announced this decision made by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) in a Palace briefing.
The Metro Manila Council (MMC) earlier decided to retain the Alert Level 3 status for NCR, saying there were enough restrictions in place and only a slight increase in the region’s health care utilization rate (HCUR) despite the increasing number of COVID-19 infections.
Also under Alert Level 3 from Jan. 16 to 31 are, in Luzon: Baguio City, Ifugao and Mountain Province in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR); Dagupan City and Ilocos Sur in Region 1 (Ilocos); Santiago City and Cagayan in Region 2 (Cagayan Valley); Angeles City, Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Olongapo City, Pampanga and Zambales in Region 3 (Central Luzon); Rizal, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna and Lucena City in Region 4-A (Calabarzon); Marinduque and Romblon in Region 4-B (Mimaropa); Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Naga City and Sorsogon in Region 5 (Bicol).
Areas in the Visayas under Alert Level 3 are Iloilo City, Iloilo province Negros Occidental and Guimaras in Region 6 (Western Visayas); Lapu-Lapu City, Bohol, Cebu and Negros Oriental in Region 7 (Central Visayas); Ormoc City, Biliran, Samar, Eastern Samar, Leyte, Northern Samar and Southern Leyte in Region 8 (Eastern Visayas).
In Mindanao, the areas under Alert Level 3 are Isabela City, Zamboanga City and Zamboanga del Sur in Region 9 (Zamboanga Peninsula); Bukidnon, Iligan City, Misamis Occidental and Misamis Oriental in Region 10 (Northern Mindanao); Davao del Sur and Davao del Norte in Region 11 (Davao region); General Santos City and South Cotabato in Region 12 (Soccsksargen); Surigao del Sur and Agusan del Norte in Caraga; and Lanao del Sur in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
Placed under the less strict Alert Level 2 are Apayao, Batanes, Palawan, Puerto Princesa City, Masbate, Siquijor, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga Sibugay, Camiguin, Lanao del Norte, Davao de Oro, Davao Occidental, Davao Oriental, North Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat, Dinagat Islands, Surigao del Norte, Basilan, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.
Under Alert Level 3, establishments or activities are allowed to operate or be undertaken at a maximum of 30 percent indoor venue capacity for fully vaccinated individuals only and 50 percent outdoor venue capacity, provided that all workers of the establishments are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Intrazonal and interzonal travel is still allowed. However, reasonable restrictions may be imposed by the LGUs, which should not be stricter as those prescribed under higher alert levels and subject to the oversight, monitoring, and evaluation of their respective regional IATF.
Those below 18 years of age, and those belonging to the vulnerable population, will be allowed access to obtain essential goods and services, or for work in permitted industries and offices in accordance with existing labor laws, rules, and regulations. Individual outdoor exercises will also be allowed for all ages regardless of comorbidities or vaccination status.
The independent OCTA Research Group, meanwhile, said the NCR’s average daily attack rate (ADAR) has increased to 117.24 percent from the previous 111.8 percent.
Citing Department of Health (DOH) data, the independent research group said 17,069 new COVID-19 cases were recorded in NCR on January 13, the region’s seven-day average at 16,599.
ADAR refers to the average number of new cases in a period per 100,000 people.
OCTA said the surge was in the early stages in some parts of the country but was accelerating in highly urbanized cities.
The Philippines logged 37,207 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, another record high, bringing the total number of cases to 3,129,512.
The previous highest daily case count reported was 34,021 on Thursday, Jan. 13.
The positivity rate went down to 47.3 percent from Thursday’s 47.9 percent, based on test results of samples from 81,737 people on Jan. 12.
There were 81 new fatalities reported, bringing the COVID-19 death toll to 52,815.
The DOH also reported 9,027 new recoveries, bringing the total recoveries to 2,811,188.
There were 265,509 active cases, of which 8,325 were asymptomatic; 252,502 were mild; 2,913 were moderate; 1,469 were severe; and 300 were critical.
Nationwide, 46 percent of ICU beds, 47 percent of isolation beds, 48 percent of ward beds, and 19 percent of ventilators, are in use.
In Metro Manila, 55 percent of ICU beds, 55 percent of isolation beds, 67 percent of ward beds, and 26 percent of ventilators, are in use.