Govt urged to ease Metro Manila restrictions gradually: UP Pandemic Response Team

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 31 2022 12:19 PM | Updated as of Jan 31 2022 10:42 PM

Workers pass through Juan Luna street in Divisoria, Manila on January 20, 2022. Preliminary results of the Asian Development Bank’s COVID-19 Country Assessment report shows the Philippines lagging its neighbors in a return to pre-pandemic growth rates with long-term effects of the pandemic on employment being a key concern. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News
Workers pass through Juan Luna street in Divisoria, Manila on January 20, 2022. Preliminary results of the Asian Development Bank’s COVID-19 Country Assessment report shows the Philippines lagging its neighbors in a return to pre-pandemic growth rates with long-term effects of the pandemic on employment being a key concern. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATED)- The government is urged to delay the de-escalation of Metro Manila's COVID-19 restrictions by a week, the UP Pandemic Response Team said Monday, a day ahead of the capital region's easing to Alert Level 2.

Metro Manila should ease its restrictions gradually to ensure "proper implementation of protocols," said UP professor Jomar Rabajante, as he noted that Metro Manila was also under Alert Level 2 during the holidays.

"What we're suggesting is dahan-dahan because...we still don’t have any research how the natural immunity from omicron can protect us and second one even though there's already a declining phase in terms of transmission in NCR, the number is still in thousands," he told ANC's Headstart.

"What we suggest is for protocols to be really implemented unlike in December."

The pandemic response team suggests that cities in Metro Manila need to have at least an average daily attack rate of less than 75 percent in order to ease its restrictions, said Rabajante.

"What we suggest is to wait for 1 more week because our average daily attack rate is really high. We can see next week if this will really decline and also the positivity rate will decline," he said.

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San Juan City is ready to deescalate to Alert Level 2 after its active COVID-19 cases declined by 86 percent to 272 from 1,947 infections in 18 days, its mayor Francis Zamora said.

"Because the numbers are going down and it’s clear the effect of omicron variant is waning, once people go out again...I believe we will be able to sustain the numbers," he said.

"This is self-regulation that’s working for us now...I fully agree we should learn to live with COVID-19 we cannot always be locking down...we have to move on, be able to understand that the virus is here."

The city has vaccinated 250 percent of its target population, including non-residents and remains open to inoculating those from other cities and provinces, Zamora said.

"Our vaccination is open to each and every Filipino regardless of where you live. We promised them we will continue to vaccinate fellow Filipinos for as long as they (government) gives us supply," he said.

"We are getting registrants from other cities, we have registrants from Visayas who fly in."

For the vaccination of children aged 5 to 11, the city has 5,000 residents and 3,000 non-residents already registered, according to Zamora.

The inoculation will be done in one vaccination site designated only for the age group with target of 1,000 jabs per day, the mayor said.

The “no vaccine certificate, no ride” policy for commuters using public transportation in Metro Manila will be lifted stating Tuesday, Feb. 1, as the region shifts into the much relaxed Alert Level 2.

The policy, which was slammed by many for alleged discrimination of unvaccinated people, was implemented by government to curb the spread of the highly-transmissible Omicron variant.

Transportation Sec. Art Tugade, meanwhile, reminded the public that minimum health protocols in public transport must still be observed to prevent another surge.

DOTr official representative to the IATF Usec. Artemio Tuazon, meanwhile, said the capacity of public transportation will be retained to 70%.

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