President Rodrigo Roa Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with key government officials at the Malacañan Palace on February 21, 2022. (MNS photo)

MANILA, Feb 22 (Mabuhay) — Metro Manila may deescalate to Alert Level 1 by March 1, independent research group OCTA said Tuesday, ahead of the mayors’ meeting to discuss the region’s restrictions.

The capital region’s positivity rate is at 4.9 percent, less than the 5 percent World Health Organization recommendation, according to OCTA Research fellow Guido David.

“Ang healthcare utilization ay nasa 25 percent lang. Pati ang ICU (intensive care unit) utilization, mababa. So sa palagay namin, sa perspective ng numbers ay mukhang nandun na tayo. Baka by next week, baka by March 1, pwede na nga ibaba sa Alert Level 1,” he said during a televised briefing.

Metro Manila is home to more than 13.5 million people and accounts for a third of the country’s gross domestic product.

Of the 1,427 new COVID-19 cases reported by the Department of Health on Monday, 332 were from Metro Manila, David said.

All regions are at a low risk case classification except for the Cordilleras, Health Secretary Francisco Duque earlier reported to President Rodrigo Duterte.

All regions also have a low risk healthcare utilization rate except for Davao region, said Duque.

The public is urged to follow minimum public health standards as a spike in virus cases may still occur, David said.

“Puwede talaga magkaroon ng spike in cases ‘pag di na sila sumusunod sa safety protocols lalo na sa mga campaign rallies,” he said.

Campaign rallies should be held outdoors or in a well-ventilated area if indoors, David said.

“Minimize natin ang (Let’s minimize) physical contact. Sana ang naga-attend, vaccinated and may boosters din,” he said.

“Posibleng di natin maiwasan minsan kung magkaroon ng minor outbreak. Pero sa nakikita naman namin, wala pa namang threat ng resurgence katulad ng nangyari nung December.”

The country saw a surge in new infections beginning late December until January due to the omicron variant.

Lawmakers have criticized OCTA Research for the accuracy of its COVID-19 projections. The group said it uses data from the DOH. (MNS)

READ NEXT: Moreno assures Muslims of ‘ideal, efficient’ gov’t if elected