VAX LOADING. A forklift operator loads a steel container of some of the 698,600 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine procured by the private sector that arrived at the NAIA Terminal 1 in Parañaque City on Friday (Oct. 22, 2021). The doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine will be taken to the PharmaServ cold storage facility in Marikina City. (MNS photo)

MANILA, Oct 23 (Mabuhay) — An official of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Saturday said Metro Manila may further ease lockdown restrictions if COVID-19 cases continue to go down.

DILG Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III said the capital region continues to show a downward trend in cases, with the daily toll averaging 1,500 to 1,600 in recent days, from a high of more than 10,000 during the surge.

“Kung siguro kapag bumaba pa ‘yan ng less than 1,000, baka pwede,” Densing said.

The intensive care unit (ICU) bed utilization rate in Metro Manila and nationwide is at 49 and 56 percent respectively as infections dropped with more people getting vaccinated.

“’Yung health care utilization rate ng National Capital Region less than 50 percent na lang. ‘Yung ICU bed, less than 60 percent, halos nandoon na siya sa low risk, moderate risk level at ang kadahilanan nito ay ang bakuna,” said Densing.

More people would be able to access commercial establishments under Alert Level 2 as capacity would further increase, said Densing. Even children would be allowed to go out, he added.

“Kaya kung magdidisiplina tayo lahat at hindi na kumalat ‘yung COVID-19 at bakunado tayong lahat, mag-iimprove ang ating health care capacity, baka hindi malayo ang posibilidad na mag-alert level 2,” he said.

(If we are disciplined to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and we’re all vaccinated, our health care capacity improves, the possibility of alert level 2 is not too far.)

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Meanwhile, he urged the public visiting graves of their loved ones before or after the week of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day to strictly follow minimum public health standards.

Densing said all cemeteries will be closed from October 29 to November 2 in a bid to curb the risk of COVID-19 transmission. The guidelines cover public and private cemeteries, columbaria and memorial parks.

He said a limit of 30-percent maximum venue capacity must be observed at any given time and minimum public health standards must be followed.

Metro Manila is under Alert Level 3 from Oct. 16 to 31.

On Friday, the Philippines recorded 5,823 new COVID-19 cases, making it the 4th straight day that numbers fell below the 6,000-mark. The country’s total coronavirus cases is now at 2,745,889, of which 66,838 are still active. (MNS)

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