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MANILA, Jan 10 (Mabuhay) — Government is ready to escalate Metro Manila to Alert Level 4 if it reaches the healthcare utilization threshold of more than 70 percent, Malacañang said Monday.

The capital region remains under Alert Level 3 as it has high average daily attack rate, high 2-week growth rate, and moderate hospitalization rate, according to acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles.

“We will not hesitate to do Alert Level 4 if we see that it breaches the threshold. We continue to manage the situation so we do not reach the threshold so that means making sure our healthcare is well enough to accommodate those who need hospitalization,” he said.

“‘Yung total bed utilization, that’s not hitting the metric yet. Tayo sa (Here in) NCR we’re what–well not 100 percent fully vaccinated–that’s where the importance of fully vaccinated comes into being.”

Hospitals and temporary treatment and monitoring facilities (TTMFs) nationwide must increase their bed capacities in preparation for this, Nograles said.

Local government units must also activate their triage system to prioritize those vulnerable such as the elderly and persons with comorbidities for hospitalization, Nograles added.

“We must increase also the utilization of telemedicine and telehealth so panawagan sa lahat ng (we call on all) LGUs to increase their telemedicine and telehealth,” he said. “Let’s conduct active case finding down to the 3rd generation.”

Government also want to “push the labs to increase their capacities and speed up the applications” of new laboratories to increase testing capacity, Nograles said.

Confirmatory swab or RT-PCR tests are free under PhilHealth packages if an individual is symptomatic, he added.

“Ang sistema dito sa atin (Our system here is) RT-PCR is free if you’re symptomatic, it will be covered by PhilHealth. I think what some people are asking for is RT-PCR for free whether or not you’re asymptomatic,” he said when asked why the Philippines does not yet have free COVID-19 testing.

The country on Sunday announced a record-high 28,707 daily new infections, raising its total COVID-19 cases to 2,965,447 with 44 percent virus positivity rate.

Government had missed its own target to fully vaccinate 54 million people by the end of 2021 with only 49,765,213 fully inoculated. (MNS)

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