President Rodrigo Duterte extended the nationwide state of calamity for another year as the country continues to battle rising number of COVID-19 cases driven by the Delta variant.
“The number of COVID-19 positive cases and deaths continue to rise despite efforts and interventions to contain the same,” Duterte said in Proclamation No. 1218 extending the state of calamity until September 12, 2022.
League of Cities of the President and Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia earlier wrote Duterte to appeal for the extension of the state of calamity proclamation that allows local governments to use funds for development, special education, local disaster risk and reduction, and other available resources for their COVID-19 responses.
The commander-in-chief also approved the “red list” of countries where travel bans will be imposed effective Sept. 12 until Sept. 18.
The red list covers Azerbaijan, Guadeloupe, Guam, Israel, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Saint Lucia, and Switzerland.
Passengers coming from or who have been to the said countries within 14 days immediately preceding arrival in the Philippines will be prohibited from entering, except returning Filipinos via repatriation flights and special commercial flights allowed under existing resolutions of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
Meanwhile, the IATF has “provisionally” approved the guidelines on the pilot implementation of granular lockdowns in Metro Manila, Malacañang announced on Friday.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the COVID-19 policy shift would only impose either the strictest enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) or the general community quarantine (GCQ) with four alert levels in Metro Manila.
“Based on the policy shift that we will carry out, there will only be two quarantine classifications,” Roque said in Filipino. “These are the ECQ that will be imposed by the IATF or the GCQ.”
He said the localized lockdown that would be pilot-tested in Metro Manila has four levels.
The IATF-EID is still ironing out the details on the implementation of alert level 4, the strictest level, Roque said.
Roque said all areas that would be placed under an alert level system should follow the protocols that are consistent with their alert levels and issued by the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19.
The classification of pilot areas and their alert levels will also be done weekly, unless otherwise specified, he added.
All areas will implement granular lockdowns, based on the guidelines of the NTF. The difference is these lockdowns are stricter, Roque said.
With the implementation of stricter granular lockdowns, health and allied health professionals are the only ones who will be considered Authorized Persons Outside Residence (APOR), he said, noting that government workers in areas under localized lockdown would not be allowed to go out.
He said, however, that local government units and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) would provide assistance to households that might be affected by the granular lockdowns.
“Local governments and the DSWD will give assistance so residents of areas under granular lockdown would no longer need to leave their homes,” he said.
Roque did not say when the pilot implementation of localized lockdowns would begin.
Originally, Metro Manila was placed under regular GCQ from Sept. 8 to 30 to give way for the pilot implementation of granular lockdowns.
The IATF, however, decided to retain the modified ECQ (MECQ) status in Metro Manila until Sept. 15, pending the release of the final guidelines on localized lockdowns.
Also on Friday, the IATF approved the creation of a task force to focus on augmenting the oxygen supply in the country.
The Philippines logged 17,964 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, bringing the total to 2,179,770.
There were 168 new fatalities, bringing the COVID-19 death toll to 34,899.
The Department of Health (DOH) also reported 9,067 new recoveries, bringing the total recoveries to 1,969,401.
There were 175,470 active cases, of which 87.8 percent were mild, 7.8 percent were asymptomatic, 0.6 percent were critical, 1.3 percent were severe, and 2.48 percent were moderate.
Based on reports on Sept. 8, the Philippines was also able to test 76,562 individuals, 28.9 percent of which tested positive for the illness.
Nationwide, 75 percent of the ICU beds, 69 percent of the isolation beds, 73 percent of the ward beds, 57 percent of the ventilators, were in use.
In Metro Manila, 73 percent of the ICU beds, 66 percent of the isolation beds, 73 percent of the ward beds, 63 percent of the ventilators, were in use.
The high occupancy of ICU beds and isolation beds put Metro Manila at high risk for COVID-19, the DOH said.