MANILA— A group of doctors said Friday it was amenable to proposals to downgrade the COVID-19 alert level in Metro Manila but warned the public to stay vigilant even amid a decline in infections.
Dr. Maricar Limpin, president of the Philippine College of Physicians, said relaxing health measures might reverse earlier gains, as the country now tallies less than 4,000 coronavirus infections.
"Medyo comfortable naman kami sa pagbaba [ng NCR] sa Alert Level 2. Pero meron ding caveat ito eh. Siguraduhin lang sana ng mamamayang Pilipino at ng pamahalaan na nasusunod ang MPHS (minimum public health standards)," she told ABS-CBN News.
(We are slightly comfortable in downgrading NCR to Alert Level 2. But there's a caveat. The public and government must ensure that MPHS are followed.)
The National Capital Region, home to over 13 million people, is staying under Alert Level 3 until Nov. 14, Malacañang announced Friday.
With that, the government's pandemic task force approved a "gradual increase of passenger capacity" for public utility vehicles in Metro Manila and nearby areas from next week.
The Inter-Agency Task Force approved "the gradual increase of passenger capacity in public transportation for road-based and rail transportation plying Metro Manila and its adjacent provinces from 70 percent to full capacity starting November 4, 2021," Malacañang spokesman Harry Roque said.
Limpin said her group expressed concern on the move, saying health protocols such as physical distancing and ventilation would be compromised.
"So, this is a setting that will really allow ang mabilis na transmission ng sakit. Baka 'yan ang maging dahilan ng increase in COVID-19, lalo 'pag ginawang 100 percent," she said.
(So, this is a setting that will really allow the faster transmission of the virus. It may be the reason for the increase in COVID-19, if we allow the [passenger capacity] to 100 percent.)
"Dapat maghinay-hinay, huwag masyadong magmadali. Kesa naman maglockdown ulit tayo, gusto ba natin 'yun?”
(Let's slow down and not decide on things faster. Do we want to have another lockdown?)
Limpin stressed that even if the country’s daily cases had dipped to less than 4,000, the virus threat remains. There is also a slight uptick in COVID-19 cases worldwide, she added.
For the first time in months, Limpin noted that health workers were relieved amid decreasing COVID-19 admissions.
“Kami naniniwalang kailangan din nating matuto na mabuhay kasama ang virus, pero pwede namang gawin 'yun nang hinay-hinay at hindi nagmamadali. Slow but sure,” she said.
(We believe we should know how to live with the virus but it could be done slowly. Slow but sure.)
— Report from Bianca Dava, ABS-CBN News