Metro Manila may remain under Alert Level 4 despite a slow decline in COVID-19 infections, the director of the Department of Health’s Epidemiology Bureau, Dr. Alethea de Guzman, said Monday.
The entire country is now under moderate risk for COVID-19 infections, after a slight decrease in cases, De Guzman said. She said the dip in cases was reflected in the negative two-week growth rate over the last few days.
But given the current numbers, she said, the National Capital Region (NCR) may remain under Alert Level 4.
She said the metrics and numbers will continuously be reviewed.
“It’s important that we have the correct and accurate data to allow us to give the right recommendations,” De Guzman added.
She said experts will continue to study the data to determine the region’s new status for October.
Based on the DOH’s monitoring, new cases in the region dropped by 13 percent over the past two weeks, but the average daily attack rate is 33.98 cases per 100,000 population and ICU utilization is at a high 76.22 percent, putting the NCR at a high risk for COVID-19.
Metro Manila’s COVID-19 bed utilization is at moderate risk at 63 percent.
Still, De Guzman noted a decrease in Metro Manila’s number of average new daily COVID-19 cases.
During the past week, she said there was a sudden and fast decrease in the number of cases in NCR.
“We’re now just reporting 4,347 cases per day, 16 percent lower than the 5,145 cases the previous week,” she said.
Based on guidelines issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), the DOH will determine Metro Manila’s alert level.
She said an announcement on whether Metro Manila will stay under Alert Level 4 or will deescalate to Alert Level 3 may be announced on Oct. 1.
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman Benhur Abalos said he was hopeful the NCR would be placed under Alert Level 3 in October, citing the decreasing reproduction rates of COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila.
The independent OCTA Research Group, meanwhile, said the COVID-19 reproduction number in the NCR rose slightly on Sunday, but stayed below 1.0.
OCTA fellow Guido David said the reproduction number, which refers to the number of people that one COVID-19 case can infect—stood at 0.98, up from 0.94 on Saturday.
“The reproduction number of 0.98 was within the error range of previous days,” David said on Twitter, adding the one-week growth rate of cases was -15 percent.
Metro Manila reported 5,653 new cases on Sunday possibly due to backlogs in reporting, he said.
“A single day spike does not change the overall trends we are seeing, so let’s hope the downtrend continues,” David said.
Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Monday said it is hoping to increase the cap for international passengers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and to open up more gateways to serve more travelers.
In an online forum, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said the proposal to raise the cap for inbound international passengers at NAIA will be presented to the IATF on Wednesday.
At present, the cap for international passengers at NAIA is at 2,000 per day from the 40,000 a day pre-pandemic.
He said if capacity is increased to 3,000 a day, they would also have to increase the gateways.
Tugade said he has already instructed the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) to coordinate with local governments on the proposal to open up regional airports that can accommodate international flights.
He added that opening up more gateways for international travelers would boost the local economy of LGUs.
Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and AirAsia earlier requested the government to increase the international capacity at NAIA to help them recover from the pandemic. Full story on manilastandard.net.
PAL earlier said it plans to increase flights to San Francisco, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Guam, Singapore, Dubai, Doha, Nagoya and Fukuoka by late October, while continuing special flights to Auckland, Vietnam and points in Australia.
More flights to Honolulu and Taipei will come online by the last week of November.
The airline’s winter season schedule also includes regular flights to New York JFK, Seoul, Saudi Arabia, Vancouver, Toronto and other Asian destinations.
Cebu Pacific, on the other hand, will resume daily flights to Dubai on Sept. 30. For Japan, Cebu Pacific will fly twice weekly to Nagoya starting Oct. 2 and Osaka on Oct. 4 and resume flights to Fukuoka on Nov. 5.
Cebu Pacific will also restart flights to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Oct. 4.