The Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) cautioned on Wednesday against further easing of COVID-19 restrictions in Metro Manila to Alert Level 1, saying the government should take it slow or risk another surge.
“We’re approaching lowering the alert level too fast. Less than 1,000 cases is still a lot of cases, and now more people are going outside so the risk for transmission might increase. We should take it slow,” Dr. Maricar Limpin, PCP president told ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo.
Limpin issued the warning after Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the alert level might be lowered further if the daily number of COVID-19 cases decrease to 500 to 1,000.
The National Capital Region (NCR) was placed under Alert Level 2 on Nov. 5. It will remain under this alert level qualification for further review until Nov. 21.
“Remember when our cases went down to about 1,000 a day, and this brought more people outside that later caused a spike in cases,” Limpin said.
Limpin warned that since children 12 years below are not yet allowed to get vaccinated, their chances of infection are much higher.
She also cautioned against the rush of Filipinos who will be returning home from the holidays.
“Cases in other countries are rising again. We worry that they might bring the strains and sub-variants of the infection from their countries of origin back home with them,” she said.
Limpin recommended that Filipinos returning home should still be required to present negative RT-PCR results upon entry, and to undergo quarantine procedures.
The Philippines logged 2,646 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing the total number of cases to 2,809,311.
There were 99 new fatalities, bringing the COVID-19 death toll to 44,665.
The DOH also reported 4,029 new recoveries, bringing the total recoveries to 2,735,508.
There were 29,138 active cases, of which 60.8 percent were mild, 7 percent were asymptomatic, 4.4 percent were critical, 10.4 percent were severe, and 17.36 percent were moderate.
The active case figure is the lowest since Feb. 9, with 29,167 active infections.
The positivity rate was at 4.3 percent, based on test results of samples from 35,772 individuals on November 8. This is the lowest since Feb. 1, 2021, which registered a 4.4 percent positivity rate.
The World Health Organization says a positivity rate of 5 percent or higher means that virus transmission is high.
Nationwide, 42 percent of ICU beds, 32 percent of isolation beds, 24 percent of ward beds, and 24 percent of ventilators, were in use.
In Metro Manila, 40 percent of ICU beds, 26 percent of isolation beds, 25 percent of ward beds, and 23 percent of ventilators, were in use.
In other developments:
* A coalition of health and education advocates on Wednesday urged the government to hold regular COVID-19 testing for those joining the pilot run of in-person classes, a recommendation that officials have already rejected. Dr. Joshua San Pedro, co-convener of the Coalition for People’s Right to Health, said testing was necessary to ensure that students and personnel would not spread COVID-19 in schools. Earlier, Education Assistant Secretary Malcom Garma rejected testing students, saying the swab tests would be “very traumatic” for children. But San Pedro said illness and death would be more traumatic and said there were other ways to do testing, including rapid antigen and saliva tests.
* The number of areas under a granular lockdown has gone down to 35 in Metro Manila, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said Wednesday. These areas are home to 148 households or about 444 people, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said in a taped meeting on Tuesday night with President Rodrigo Duterte that aired on Wednesday. At least 303 areas were under granular lockdowns at the start of October. Across the country, a total of 413 areas remain on granular lockdown, Año said during the meeting. These areas cover some 7,000 households or 29,815 people, he said.