MANILA— A health advocate on Saturday expressed concern that easing quarantine restrictions to alert level 3 in the National Capital Region may cause a rebound in COVID-19 cases.
Dr. Tony Leachon said COVID-19 cases are improving as the latest tally on Friday recorded 7,625 cases, but the positivity rate remains high and testing is still low.
This, as Metro Manila shifted to the looser quarantine level on Saturday.
“Kung magbubukas tayo ng economy at ang testing natin mababa, nasa 49,000 na dapat sa ganito gumagawa tayo ng 100,000, pagbukas natin mag-rebound yan in 2 weeks or 1 month kasi kailangan mapanatili nating mababa,” said Leachon.
(If we open the economy and testing is low, only at 49,000, when we should be doing 100,000, we could experience a rebound in 2 weeks or one month because we need to maintain the low cases.)
According to the Department of Health, the positivity rate is currently at 14.9 percent. This means more than 1 in 10 people screened for COVID-19 tested positive for the virus.
“Nakikita natin madali pa rin magkakahawaan 'yan tapos doon sa vaccination rate natin kailangan natin makita 'yung column na 'yun para malaman natin baka ang nagdadala sa percentage na 'yun ay isang locality,” he said.
(Infection is still high and we need to see our vaccination rate in a column (in data reporting) to determine if the percentage is from just one locality.)
The capital region, home to over 13 million people, was placed under Alert Level 3 beginning Saturday, Oct. 16. This quarantine level will remain in effect until the end of the month.
Several establishments will be allowed to operate at up to 30 percent of indoor venue capacity for fully vaccinated individuals and up to 50 percent outdoor capacity. Among establishments allowed to operate at 30 percent capacity are movie theaters.
“Kasama doon ang cinema kaya hindi ako makapa-comment whether I’m happy with that, parang ang sinasabi ko dapat gradual phase down. Kasi sa sinehan alam natin kahit may spacing enclosed pa rin siyang area and then hindi mo naman alam kung magbubukas ng mask doon ang manonood ng sine so baka magkaroon siya ng superspreader event na pwedeng dalhin sa bahay,” he said.
(Cinema is included there that’s why I can’t make a comment whether I’m happy with that because I believe it should still be a gradual phase down. In cinemas, even if there’s spacing, it is still an enclosed area and you won’t know if people there are going to remove their face masks so that could be a superspreader event, and they may bring home the virus.)
He added, “Sana ang ginawa nila gradual phase down and then i-check nila kung magkaka-rebound.”
(I hope they instead implement a gradual phase down and check if it's going to cause a rebound.)
In an interview on TeleRadyo, Leachon said the government needs to put in order its data reporting to reflect both the positivity and vaccination rates of localities.
“I look at the positivity rate as an important factor. Pagka-less than 5 percent 'yan, doon ako magiging kampante,” he said.
Data reporting would help government in terms of vaccine deployment and the conduct of testing in the area.
The Philippines has fully vaccinated some 23.54 million out of its target 77 million, while nearly 27 million have received their first dose as of Tuesday, based on government data.