PH 'most likely' to stay under Alert Level 2 in January amid rise in COVID cases: Galvez

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 28 2021 09:56 PM

Visitors flock to the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 2021. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News
Visitors flock to the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 2021. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

Officials not recommending strict lockdowns when surge hits 

MANILA — The Philippines will "most likely" stay under Alert Level 2 in January amid the slight increase in COVID-19 cases, pandemic task force chief Sec. Carlito Galvez, Jr. said.

Galvez, National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 Chief Implementer, said that while the Philippines' pandemic situation is "very stable," local authorities were still alerted about the rise in new infections. 

“Nagkaroon kami ng emergency meeting kahapon (we had an emergency meeting yesterday). And we already warned some LGUs and also the regional IATFs that some of the cases are increasing, particularly NCR. We have a meeting tomorrow with NCR,” Galvez said. 

The official pointed out that authorities are monitoring the situation.

“Sa ngayon, very stable pa rin ang ating situation (right now, the situation is still stable), though we increased little by little ang ating cases... But we are still making some observation, particularly those areas that are increasing already,” he said.

“Most likely we will maintain yung Alert Level 2,” he added. 

Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion said he will support the move to retain the current Alert Level 2 in the coming months. 

Metro Manila is under the said classification since early November.

“We have done great with Alert Level 2. Many of the entrepreneurs have rebounded to about 80 percent of pre-pandemic sales. So it’s not bad. Everybody’s happy. I’m talking to the restaurants, businessmen, they had a great 4th quarter,” Concepcion said.

“Hopefully we can have face-to-face classes. But then again, we will only support it if our children are fully vaccinated. 12 to 17 (years old) and 5 to 11 (years old). And I think we should not open unless they are vaccinated… or else those students will get sick and they will infect their parents,” he added. 

Philippine authorities have approved the vaccination of children as young as 5 years old using Pfizer's product. Galvez said the shots from the brand intended for the said population might arrive by January. 

The government bought 15 million COVID-19 Pfizer shots for the said sector, and it would arrive in tranches, he said.

Galvez, the Philippines' vaccine czar, admitted he is concerned about the surge in COVID-19 cases in the United States and in Europe due to the more transmissible omicron variant. 

According to the Department of Health, four omicron cases have been confirmed so far in the country. 

Galvez said the public should not downplay the threat of the omicron variant.

“We are asking the Filipino people not to be complacent and do not underestimate omicron,” he said.

GRANULAR LOCKDOWNS 

In case of a surge in new coronavirus infections due to omicron, Galvez said granular lockdowns would be implemented. 

“Ang mga pagla-lockdown, it’s based on scientific data,” he said.

(Implementing lockdowns is based on scientific data.)

“Ang gagawin naman natin (what we will do) is we will have a granular approach on the lockdown. Hindi tayo gagawa ng very drastic action that will greatly affect our economy,” he said.

Concepcion said he is also against wide lockdowns and urged people not to panic when there is a surge.

“We should not do anymore lockdowns this coming year. So even if infections go up, let’s not get scared,” he said.

“We should not look at infection as the basis, because if everybody is fully vaccinated, we are preventing hospitalizations,” he added.

The National Capital Region has seen a slight rise in new COVID-19 cases, and the positivity rate has also increased, analysts said. 

The DOH affirmed the observations, saying that the average daily cases in the country rose in the past seven days to 351 from 289. 

In Metro Manila, the average daily tally climbed to 145 from 74 the previous week, the agency said.

"DOH reiterates that these increases have not yet translated in admissions in hospital and most of these cases are mild or asymptomatic," it said in a statement. 

Philippine authorities have fully vaccinated 62 percent of the target 77.1 million individuals, government data showed on Monday.

— Reports from Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News

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