MANILA — A "clustering" of coronavirus cases and the high occupancy rate of hospital beds have prevented authorities from placing Metro Manila under a modified general community quarantine, the Department of Health said Tuesday.
Metro Manila will be under GCQ or general community quarantine until Oct. 31. The lockdown level can be downgraded to modified GCQ "if we can reduce the number of clustering of these cases," said Health spokesperson and Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.
"It was decided that it would remain under GCQ because there are still some areas with clustering of cases. We needed to monitor these areas," she told ANC.
Valenzuela, Makati, Muntinlupa are among areas that recently saw a spike in coronavirus infections, National Task Force COVID-19 Spokesperson retired Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla told TeleRadyo.
Metro Manila's hospital bed utilization has improved to less than 60 percent from the previous 80 percent, which falls under the "danger zone." This rate should ideally be 30 percent or less, said Vergeire.
"We still need to further decongest our hospitals, we still need to further expand our capacity so that we will be able to be ready… if and when there will be another increase in the number of cases," she said.
Government hospitals are nearing the target of allocating 30 percent of their beds to coronavirus patients. Private hospitals meanwhile should reserve 20 percent of their beds for the pandemic. The DOH is helping them hire more workers to man these beds, said Vergeire.
The health department has tallied 307,288 coronavirus infections, of which 49,242 were active as of Monday.
The virus transmission rate has gone down to 0.82, indicating that the pandemic will peter out.
"We have to have cautious optimism. Though we are seeing improvements, we cannot be complacent, we still need to be vigilant. Kailangan pa rin talagang bantayan iyong areas na may nakikita tayong clustering," said Vergeire.
(We need to monitor areas where we see clustering.)