Health Secretary Francisco Duque III (MNS Photo)

MANILA, Jan 1 (Mabuhay) –The Department of Health (DOH) is being cautious in upgrading COVID-19 quarantine restrictions nationwide despite the threat of the more contagious coronavirus Omicron variant.

At a press briefing on Saturday, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the government is “guided by metrics” in imposing quarantine alert levels in various areas of the country.

“So we will not recommend [Alert Level 3] to other regions until the figures will show that, like NCR (National Capital Region), kung mabilis ang pagtaas ng mga kaso,” Duque said.

Metro Manila has been placed under Alert Level 3 from January 3 to 15, 2022, following the sharp increase in new coronavirus infections in the country.

Under Alert Level 3, several establishments will be allowed to operate at 30% indoor venue capacity only for fully vaccinated individuals and 50% outdoor venue capacity, provided that all employees are fully vaccinated.

Face-to-face classes in basic and higher education, contact sports, funfairs/perya, and casinos are among the activities and establishments that would be prohibited under Alert Level 3.

Work at government offices is limited to 60% of their onsite capacity.

Metro Manila was supposed to remain under the more relaxed Alert Level 2 from January 1 to 15, 2022, like most of the country.

Duque said that metrics was the “reason primarily why we are estimating NCR of Alert Level 3.”

After a whole month of reporting less than 1,000 daily infections per day, the Philippines on Thursday logged 1,623 new cases.

This further increased to 2,961 new infections on Friday.

Of the 2,961 reported cases, 2,927 (99%) occurred within the last 14 days (December 18 to 31, 2021), the Department of Health said.

The regions with the highest number of cases in the past two weeks were the NCR (1,981 or 68%), Calabarzon (431 or 15%), and Central Luzon (179 or 6%).

The country has also detected three local cases of the highly transmissible Omicron variant, two from NCR and one from the Bicol Region. To date, the number of Omicron variant cases in the country reached 14.

With the detection of local cases, the DOH warned of “exponential growth” in the number of COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks.

Independent research group OCTA on Saturday said COVID-19 cases in the country may total more or less 4,000 on January 1, 2022, as it noted a rise in the reproduction number of the coronavirus in NCR — 3.19 as of December 28. (MNS)

READ NEXT: NCR reverted to Alert Level 3 on Jan. 3-15 — Palace exec