Gov't urged: Escalate Metro Manila to Alert Level 4 - former adviser

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 07 2022 10:46 AM

People line up for a test at a COVID-19 testing facility at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum in Manila on January 4, 2022 as the National Capital Region remains under the stricter Alert Level 3 due to a spike in virus cases in recent days. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
People line up for a test at a COVID-19 testing facility at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum in Manila on January 4, 2022 as the National Capital Region remains under the stricter Alert Level 3 due to a spike in virus cases in recent days. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Government should escalate Metro Manila's COVID restrictions to alert level 4 for at least 2 weeks, a public health expert urged Friday as infections continue to rise.

Nearly 70 percent of new virus cases come from Metro Manila, according to Dr. Tony Leachon, a former adviser of the National Task Force Against COVID-19.

"Ang essence nito for rapid transmission is to reduce mobility para walang matakbuhan ang virus," he told ANC's Headstart.

(The essence of this for rapid transmission is to reduce mobility so the virus cannot infect anyone.)

"Exponential kasi ang prediction ng marami...Ang problema ho natin pag kumalat nang kumalat 'yan baka ang buong Luzon madamay. Ang Visayas, Mindanao ay problema because of the typhoon, baka makarating sa Bicol, VisMin, 'yung mga evacuation center in the countryside, gigiba po ang ating healthcare system."

(Many experts predict the cases will be exponential...Our problem is if it spreads to the whole of Luzon. If it spreads to Bicol and Visayas and Mindanao, which was devastated by the typhoon, evacuation centers in the countryside might be infected and might cause our healthcare system to collapse.)

The Department of Health on Thursday reported 29 new cases of the omicron variant, bringing the country's total to 42. Of this figure, 22 were local cases and 20 were Filipinos who returned from abroad.

The health agency previously said it assumes the highly transmissible variant has spread in local communities.

Patients with the omicron variant have milder symptoms which can be confused with the flu, according to Leachon.

"Omicron spares the lungs so their presentation might be milder. It might be the flu but there are fatigue and general body pains," he said.

It is important to get vaccinated and boosted as having a second dose gives patients 70 percent protection while those with additional doses have 90 percent protection, Leachon said, citing information from. Dr. Nina Gloriani, head of the country's vaccine expert panel.

He added that the public should be exposed to the coronavirus for natural immunity after some studies found the omicron variant might become a "natural vaccine."

"Just 43 days pa lang tayo (We're just 43 days) from its discovery and the science is evolving. Let’s go muna through the real immunity, which is vaccination at wag muna natin kunin (and let's not get it) through exposing the patients to natural immunity," he said.