IATF adds 20% operational capacity
The government’s COVID-19 task force has allowed more establishments in areas under Alert Level 4 to increase their operational capacity by 20 percent as COVID-19 infectious continues to decline, Malacañang said Tuesday.
Acting presidential spokesman Karlo Nograles said the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has permitted establishments in these areas to increase the allowable indoor and outdoor capacity by 20 percent.
Kalinga, Ifugao, Mountain Province, and Northern Samar were placed on Alert Level 4 last January. These areas have a moderate to high-risk classification for COVID-19 transmission and healthcare capacities are higher than 70%, according to the Department of Health (DOH).
The same IATF resolution provides these same establishments under Alert Level 3 can even operate at an additional 10 percent capacity if they have secured Safety Seal certificates, Nograles said.
Alert Level 3 provides for 30 percent indoor capacity and 50 percent outdoor capacity only for fully vaccinated individuals.
Under Alert Level 2, the second lowest in the new alert level system, certain establishments and activities are allowed at 50 percent capacity indoors for fully vaccinated adults (and minors, even if unvaccinated) and 70 percent capacity outdoors.
The IATF placed Zamboanga City, Davao de Oro, Davao Occidental, and South Cotabato under Alert Level 3 while most of the rest of the country will be under Alert Level 2 until Feb. 28.
The Philippines logged 2,010 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, which is the lowest daily tally this year. The new cases brought the total case count to 3,641,940, the Department of Health (DOH) said.
The positivity rate was at 10.4 percent based on 20,084 people tested for COVID-19 on Feb. 13. This is still higher than the World Health Organization’s target of less than 5 percent.
The top regions with cases in the recent two weeks were National Capital Region (Metro Manila) with 238 or 15 percent, Region 4-A (Calabarzon) with 183 or 12 percent, and Region 6 (Western Visayas) with 159 or 10 percent.
There were 52 new fatalities reported, bringing the COVID-19 death toll to 55,146.
The DOH also reported 6,293 new recoveries, bringing the total number of recoveries to 3,514,489.
There were 72,305 active cases, of which 1,498 were asymptomatic; 66,093 were mild; 2,961 were moderate; 1,441 were severe, and 312 were critical.
Nationwide, 34 percent of ICU beds, 28 percent of isolation beds, 25 percent of ward beds, and 18 percent of ventilators, are in use.
In Metro Manila, 32 percent of ICU beds, 23 percent of isolation beds, 27 percent of ward beds, and 17 percent of ventilators, are in use.
Nograles said the country was finalizing a roadmap to Alert Level 1, which would further ease COVID-19 restrictions.
Under Alert 1, the public may still be required to wear face masks and observe physical distancing, but limits to the operating capacity of establishments would be lifted, he said.
The DOH said it was possible that new cases would fall to 100 cases a day by mid-March if the public continues to observe minimum public health protocols.
“Based on different factors, if our compliance to minimum public health standards goes down by even just 12 percent, we might see 2,000 cases a day by March 15 instead,” DOH spokesperson and Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said on Tuesday.
The present compliance to minimum public health standards has brought a slow but steady decline in daily recorded number of cases the past weeks, she said.
Vergeire, however, warned that the slightest increase in complacency can affect the number of daily reported cases exponentially.
While the DOH has yet to see patterns that point toward a surge in cases caused by the election campaign, experts continue reminding organizers and candidates to set an example for their supporters.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III previously reminded candidates to make sure that systems are in place so minimum public health standards are practiced by the supporters.
Thousands of supporters have already been seen gathering along roads and in public spaces in support for their bets in the national elections.
Duque said these activities could easily turn into superspreader events.