(MNS Photo)

MANILA, Feb 15 (Mabuhay) — The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has approved a recommendation to retain the National Capital Region (NCR) under Alert Level 2 status until the end of February, Malacañang said Monday.

In a statement, Acting Presidential Spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said aside from Metro Manila, other areas will also be placed under Alert Level 2 from February 16 to 28.

Areas in Luzon under Alert Level 2 are Abra, Apayao, Baguio City, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga and Mountain Province in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR); Dagupan City, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union and Pangasinan in Region 1 (Ilocos); Batanes, City of Santiago, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino in Region 2 (Cagayan Valley); Bulacan, Angeles City, Aurora, Bataan, Nueva Ecija, Olongapo City, Pampanga, Tarlac and Zambales in Region 3 (Central Luzon); Cavite, Rizal, Batangas, Laguna, Lucena City and Quezon Province in Region 4-A (Calabarzon); Marinduque, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Palawan, Puerto Princesa City and Romblon in Region 4-B (Mimaropa); Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Masbate, Naga City and Sorsogon in Region 5 (Bicol).

Areas in the Visayas under Alert Level 2 are Aklan, Antique, Bacolod City, Capiz and Negros Occidental in Region 6 (Western Visayas); Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City, Bohol, Cebu, Negros Oriental and Siquijor in Region 7 (Central Visayas); and Ormoc City, Tacloban City, Eastern Samar, Leyte, Northern Samar, Western Samar, Biliran and Southern Leyte in Region 8 (Eastern Visayas).

In Mindanao, the areas under Alert Level 2 are the City of Isabela, and provinces of Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte, and Zamboanga Sibugay in Region 9 (Zamboanga Peninsula); Bukidnon, Cagayan de Oro City, Camiguin, Iligan City, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental and Misamis Oriental in Region 10 (Northern Mindanao); Davao City, Davao del Sur, Davao del Norte and Davao Oriental in Region 11 (Davao region); General Santos City, North Cotabato, Sarangani and Sultan Kudarat in Region 12 (Soccsksargen); Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Butuan City and Dinagat Islands in Region 13 (Caraga); and Basilan, Maguindanao, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Cotabato City and Lanao del Sur in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Under Alert Level 2, the maximum operational capacities for several businesses and activities is 50 percent for indoor venues, fully vaccinated persons, and those below 18 years of age, even if unvaccinated and 70 percent for outdoor venues provided all workers of the establishments are fully inoculated against Covid-19.

Under Alert Level 3

Nograles said the IATF also placed seven areas under more stringent Alert Level 3 classification during the same period.

These include Iloilo City, Iloilo Province and Guimaras in Region 6; Zamboanga City in Region 9; Davao de Oro and Davao Occidental in Region 11; and South Cotabato in Region 12.

Under Alert Level 3, establishments or activities shall be allowed to operate or be undertaken at a maximum of 30 percent indoor venue capacity for fully vaccinated individuals only and 50 percent outdoor venue capacity, provided that all workers of the establishments are fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday reported 2,730 new Covid-19 cases, the lowest rise this year.

The country’s active cases dropped to 76,609 after the DOH logged 7,456 new recoveries.

MMC recommendation

The Metro Manila Council (MMC)—composed of the 17 mayors in the National Capital Region (NCR)— on Monday recommended the extension of Alert Level 2 status in the region to the IATF.

In a resolution, the MMC noted that only five out of the 17 local government units (LGU) in the NCR are currently classified as “low-risk” and the rest are at a “moderate risk” classification based on Covid-19 growth rate and average daily attack rate.

“Alert Level 2 must be preserved, maintained, and improved. And a less stringent alert level in the NCR may potentially result in super spreader events in the region, especially with the start of the May 2022 election campaign period,” the MMC Resolution No. 2204 released on Monday read.

It cited the Department of Health’s (DOH) Covid-19 situation report in the NCR as of Saturday that about 32 percent of all confirmed cases nationwide were detected in the NCR with a regional average positivity rate of 7.32 percent.

While these data are “truly encouraging” and show an improving Covid-19 situation in the NCR, the resolution urged to await an improvement in the risk classifications of the 12 LGUs at moderate risk.

“The economic gains and advancement in health care which were realized in the past weeks under Alert level 2 must be preserved, maintained, and improved,” the resolution read.

MMC chairperson and Parañaque City Mayor Edwin Olivarez said the recommendation was made to further assess the healthcare utilization rate and ramp up the vaccination for children aged 5 to 11 years old.

“Siguro po dahan-dahan, ang tingin po naming mga mayor at mga LGU (local government unit)—even ang recommendation ng aming mga CHO (City Health Office) ay i-sustain muna natin itong alert level until end of the month (Maybe slowly, we, mayors and LGUs, look at it and even our CHOs recommended to sustain this alert level until the end of the month),” Olivarez said in a media briefing during the vaccination event in Parañaque City.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III reminded the public that the government’s decision on the alert levels is guided by a set of metrics, such as the two-week growth rate, average daily attack rate (ADAR), and hospitalization rate.

Duque said until the NCR will not meet the ADAR threshold of 7 percent or below, de-escalation to Alert Level 1 is not possible. Metro Manila’s ADAR is currently at moderate risk, while its health system capacity is at a low-risk utilization rate or only 30 percent. (MNS)

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