MANILA — The World Health Organization is "supportive" of eased restrictions in Metro Manila, its representative said on Thursday, as he reminded government to be "very careful" in monitoring the move's impact.
The capital region's 13 million people on Saturday will shift to COVID-19 Alert 3 from Alert 4, allowing businesses to operate at higher capacity. The alert system, first tested in mid-September, will continue to be paired with granular lockdowns.
"With the high vaccine coverage in Metro Manila, we believe that we need to adjust and calibrate the restrictions... Lockdowns have terrible economic consequences and affect the people negatively," said WHO country representative Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe.
"We are supportive of this (alert system) but we need to be very careful," he said in a press briefing.
Abeyasinghe called on local governments "to ensure that access to testing is maintained." He also urged the public to go on quarantine if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
"This has to be a whole of society approach that everybody contributes to so that we can come out of this without going back into another surge," said WHO's representative.
"While the calibrations are important, we have to very careful in monitoring this and we need to be flexible enough to tighten restrictions in very granular areas if we see localized transmission happening," he added.
The alert system remains limited to Metro Manila, the epicenter of the country's COVID-19 outbreak.
Asked when the setup would be expanded to other areas, Malacañang spokesman Harry Roque said, "Hintayin natin na i-analyze ng mga dalubhasa ang mga datos para magkaroon tayo ng conclusion po."
(Let us just wait for experts to analyze the data so we can have a conclusion.)
Video courtesy of PTV