(MNS Photo)

MANILA, Jan 4 (Mabuhay) — The provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, and Rizal will shift to a stricter Alert Level 3 from January 5 to 15 due to a surge in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases, possibly spiked by the Omicron variant, Malacañang announced Tuesday.

Acting Presidential Spokesperson, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, said the decision was reached by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) in a meeting on Monday.

“Due to a sharp increase of Covid-19 cases in the particular localities, the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) approved yesterday, Jan. 3, 2022, the recommendation of its sub-Technical Working Group on Data Analytics to escalate Bulacan, Cavite, and Rizal to Alert Level 3. This shall take effect from Jan. 5, 2022 until Jan. 15, 2022,” he said.

On Dec. 31, 2021, the IATF raised Metro Manila to Alert Level 3 until January 15.

Nograles said the current hospital care utilization rate is “not as high.”

“Hindi sumipa ng ganoon kataas iyong admissions natin sa hospital (Our admissions in hospitals did not increase that much). ICU is not bad, but the cases are rising,” he said.

The Department of Health (DOH) earlier said there was a high possibility of local transmission of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 after the country tallied more than 4,000 new infections for the second straight day.

As of January 3, the DOH recorded 4,084 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the country’s caseload to 2,855,819.

The DOH also reported 497 more people getting better, bringing total recoveries to 2,779,241 while 16 more fatalities pushed the death toll to 51,586.

The positivity rate was 20.7 percent, about four times the World Health Organization’s benchmark of below 5 percent to indicate that coronavirus transmission is under control.

Under Alert Level 3, a 30 percent indoor venue capacity and 50 percent outdoor venue capacity will be allowed for some activities, provided employees are fully vaccinated.

However, face-to-face or in-person classes for basic education; contact sports, except those conducted under the bubble-type setup; funfairs/carnivals and kid amusement industries; venues with live voice or wind instrument performers and audiences; casinos, horse racing, cockfighting and operation of cockpits, lottery and betting shops, and other gaming establishments; and gatherings in residences with individuals not belonging to the same household will be prohibited. (MNS)

READ NEXT: Philippines posts 4,084 new COVID-19 cases; positivity rate at 20.7%