Metro Manila will have a common alert level quarantine system with granular lockdowns under the government’s new COVID-19 policy that will be pilot tested for two weeks starting Sept. 16, an official said Sunday.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government also said granular lockdowns would be implemented by surprise, contrary to earlier pronouncements that residents will be informed in advance.
“There will be no warning, you will not know. Only the City Health Office has the data. It would defeat the purpose if a warning is given. People would leave the area and cluster with others,” DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya told radio DZBB.
Earlier, in an interview on ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo, Interior Undersecretary Epimaco Densing said areas to be placed under a granular lockdown would be advised 24 hours before it is implemented, to give them time to prepare (see table below -- Editors).
Densing also said having a common alert level would prevent people from gathering in areas with a lower alert level.
The mayors of Metro Manila’s 16 cities and lone municipality all agreed on having a common level, Densing said.
“Even if there was a lower alert level in other cities, they are close to each other, and people would just transfer to areas with a lower alert level and gather there,” he said in Filipino.
Densing said alert levels are different from granular lockdowns, which are imposed in specific areas under certain conditions.
He added that the guidelines would be released today, Monday.
The Philippines logged 21,411 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the total number of infections to 2,227,367.
There were 168 new deaths, bringing the COVID-19 death toll to 35,145.
Total recoveries were listed at 25,049, bringing to 2,010,271 the number of COVID-19 patients who recovered from the coronavirus disease.
This left 181,951 the number of active cases, 86 percent of which are mild, 9.5 percent of which are asymptomatic, 2.59 percent of which are moderate, and 0.6 percent of which are in critical condition.
A Department of Health (DOH) estimate said as many as 43,000 daily cases may be reported by the end of the month.
The independent OCTA Research Group, meanwhile, reported that the reproduction rate of COVID-19 in Metro Manila rose slightly to 1.42 as the number of cases grew 19 percent.
The reproduction rate indicates the number of infections generated from one infected patient.
Also on Sunday, a former adviser to the government’s task force on COVID-19 said the Philippines is at a “critical risk” level.
Talking to ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo. Dr. Anthony Leachon said the nationwide health care utilization rate is at 77 percent, while it is at 76 percent in Metro Manila.
Leachon said the country’s health care capacity is considered at “high-risk” when its occupancy reaches more than 70 percent and “critical risk” when it is at 85 percent.
But Leachon said reporting has been delayed because on the ground, hospitals are full, and the level could already be critical.
Leachon said he opposed the government’s plan to ease quarantine restrictions in Metro Manila and to shift to granular lockdowns in a bid to reopen the economy.
“It’s really too scary because you recorded the highest-recorded number of cases, then you will enforce a granular lockdown where people still have mobility. Experiments are not done during a crisis, even in medicine,” he said.
“The fundamental principle is health is the first wealth. You cannot open the economy if virus transmission is uncontrolled. You have a plan, but you have not prepared the infrastructure,” he added.
GRANULAR LOCKDOWN GUIDELINES
· A granular lockdown may be limited to several houses, a building, street, or a barangay.
· Granular lockdowns may run for 2 weeks.
· Granular lockdowns will be implemented in Metro Manila and nationwide.
· Local authorities will be given 24 hours to prepare for the granular lockdown.
· If two separate households in a street have COVID-19 carriers, the street is to be placed under lockdown.
· Barangay officials will report the situation to the municipal health office (MHO), which will recommend to the local chief executive if an area or street should be placed under granular lockdown.
· All individuals, including APOR and government officials, will not be allowed to leave an area under a granular lockdown.
· Only health workers, allied workers, overseas Filipino workers (OFW) with scheduled flights, and only people with emergency cases will be permitted to go out.
NEW ALERT LEVEL SCHEME
· Alert levels will only be used in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ).
· For the pilot implementation of the alert level systems in Metro Manila, cities in NCR would be under a single alert level.
· The Department of Health is the authority in announcing an area’s alert level, based on health care utilization rate, average daily attack rate, and number of new COVID-19 cases.
· Under Alert Level 4, people aged 18 below and 65 above, those with comorbidity, and pregnant women would not be allowed to leave their homes.
· Private companies are allowed to have a minimum onsite capacity under Alert Level 2, but more employees would be permitted to go onsite under the loosest Alert Level 1.
In other developments:
* At least six barangays in Bayugan City in Agusan del Sur were placed under granular lockdown starting Sunday due to a spike in COVID-19 cases. The granular lockdown will remain in force until further notice and may be extended. An executive order from the mayor’s office focused containment, community quarantine, and strict and mandatory quarantine in these areas.
* The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it is suspending its consular operations at its offices in Robinsons Galleria Ortigas and Robinsons Place Pangasinan from Sept. 13 to 17 after 12 of its employees tested positive for COVID-19. The agency, in an advisory on Saturday night, said all affected passport appointments during this period will be rescheduled at the soonest possible time. With PNA