MANILA - A group of doctors on Sunday expressed apprehension on Metro Manila's downgrade to COVID-19 Alert Level 3 as health workers have yet to breathe following the recent surge of virus cases.
Doctors are also worried if government would be able to immediately respond if infections increase, said Dr. Maricar Limpin, president of the Philippine College of Physicians.
"Ang isa sa dahilan ng pangangamba namin is baka hindi makaresponde nang mabilis ang pamahalaan sa slight increase," she told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
(One of our worries is government might not be able to immediately respond if there's a slight increase in cases.)
"Medyo nangangamba kami na itong pagluwag na ito, base sa nakaraan, every time na nagluluwag tayo, medyo may kasamang pagkalimot ang ating mga kababayan."
(Based on previous experience, every time we ease restrictions, the people forget observance of health protocols.)
Hospitals remain full even as reported infections have declined, Limpin added.
"Puno pa rin kami, madami pa rin ang COVID-19 cases natin. Puno ang ICU (intensive care unit), emergency wards, although di na talaga siya tulad ng dati. Within the day, naa-admit na namin ang kailangan namin i-admit," she said.
(We're still full, we still have many COVID-19 cases. ICU and emergency wards are still full, although it's not like before. We could already admit patients within the day.)
"Except kung sabihin natin nakakahinga na kami, di pa rin kami nakakahinga sa ngayon."
(We still can't breathe for now.)
Some hospitals remain short-staffed due to virus infections among health workers, while there is an "expected exodus of nurses" following intensified recruitment to work in the UK and the US, Limpin said.
"Sana matuloy na ang examination ng PRC (Professional Regulation Commission) para sa magiging bagong doctor natin... Ang fear talaga namin, 'di kami madadagan by January," she said.
(I hope the PRC examination for new doctors pushes through... Our fear really is there won't be new doctors by January.)
Limpin added that she would recommend a physical distancing of 2 meters as she reminded the public to observe minimum health standards.
"'Yan naman talaga ang ideal na physical distancing," she said.
(That's really the ideal figure for physical distancing.)
"Kahit pwede na tayong lumabas, kung wala tayong importanteng gagawin, 'wag na tayong lumabas. Kailangan natin proteksyunan ang ating mga sarili at mga mahal sa buhay."
(Even though we can now go outside, if we don't have anything important to do, we should remain home. Let's protect ourselves and our loved ones.)
Metro Manila on Saturday eased to Alert Level 3, which allows limited in-person classes, and the reopening of more businesses such as amusement parks and cinemas, among others.
The first day of easing of restrictions in San Juan City went without any "untoward incident," according to its mayor Francis Zamora.
Some 225 percent of its target population of 128,000 have been fully vaccinated against the disease, he said. This is due to the full inoculation of San Juan residents and workers who reside in other cities, he said.
The Metro Manila Council will release "very soon" a resolution clarifying the guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force Against COVID-19 on allowing children aged 17 and below outside their homes, Zamora said.