'Maaaring mabago': Officials say Alert Level 4 in NCR to be assessed weekly

Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 17 2021 05:08 PM

Catholic devotees pray outside the Quiapo Church in Manila on the first day of the implementation of COVID-19 Alert Level 4 in NCR on Sept. 16, 2021. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File
Catholic devotees pray outside the Quiapo Church in Manila on the first day of the implementation of COVID-19 Alert Level 4 in NCR on Sept. 16, 2021. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA— The new quarantine strategy enforced in Metro Manila to curb the spread of COVID-19 while allowing greater economic activity will be assessed weekly, officials said Friday.

The sprawling capital region has switched to Alert Level 4, which includes targeted lockdowns in areas with cluster of infections. 

"Ang alert level po dynamic 'yan. Nababago-bago po 'yan. Hindi po 'yan puwedeng mag-stick ng 2 linggo at hindi natin binago. Maaari po after one week, mabago ang alert level," Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a press briefing.

(The alert level is dynamic. It can change. We can't just stick to it for 2 weeks and not change. Maybe after a week, the alert level will be different.)

The 5-tier new virus response strategy is being piloted in Metro Manila, an infection hotspot, until Sept. 30.

"Every week we will be assessing so that we will see 'yung progress natin. Ano 'yung puwedeng baguhin, ano 'yung puwede nating i-retain, ano 'yung mga metrics na dapat pag-aralan, at ano pa 'yung ways moving forward?" Vergeire said.

(Every week we will be assessing so that we will see our progress. What could be changed, retained, metrics to be studied and ways moving forward?)

Should the new scheme be "effective, feasible and acceptable," it can be enforced in the rest of the country, the health official said.

"Kapag nakakita tayo ng positibong resulta dito sa ginagawang (If we see a positive result of the ongoing) pilot implementation, we may be able to roll it out to the rest of the country maybe towards the end of September," Vergeire added.

The final recommendation is still up to the government's pandemic task force.

In a TeleRadyo interview, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman Benhur Abalos also said the implementation of Alert Level 4 in the region would be assessed after a week.

"After one week, ia-assess po ito. Kung hindi tayo pumasa, another one week. ‘Yung second week, ‘yung 14th day, sana po magkaisa tayo, pababain natin, umabot tayo sa Alert Level 3 para man lang umabot tayo doon sa 30 percent na pupuwede na," he said.

(After one week, it will be assessed. If we do not pass, then another week. For the second week, on the 14th day, hopefully we can come together and bring this down to Alert Level 3 so that we can reach the 30 percent capacity.)

Abalos said this amid calls to increase the capacity of indoor religious activities to 30 percent.

Under Level 4, in-person religious gatherings are allowed up to 30 percent of the capacity if conducted outdoors regardless of vaccination status. If they are held indoors, only 10 percent of seating capacity is allowed.

The new alert level system was enforced as the Philippines saw new record highs of infections, which authorities have attributed to the highly infectious Delta variant and people's failure to comply with minimum health standards.