'High chance' Metro Manila's alert level will be lowered by Oct. 15 — Malacañang

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 11) — Metro Manila could soon shift to a more relaxed alert level with recent data showing promise, the Palace said Monday.

"Ang mabuting balita po ay pagdating po sa ICU capacity eh for the first time po in many, many months ang Metro Manila po ay nasa moderate risk," said Presidential and IATF spokesman Harry Roque, who reported a 69% utilization rate for the region as of Sunday.

[Translation: The good news is that when it comes to ICU capacity is for the first time in many, many months Metro Manila has become moderate risk.]

While the official noted the National Capital Region's two-week growth rates and average daily attack rates are also taken into account, he said the data "supports a reduction of the alert level but that's ultimately the decision of the IATF."

In a separate briefing, Department of Health spokesperson Ma. Rosario Vergeire acknowledged COVID-19 cases are indeed going down along with hospital admissions. However, the evaluation of local governments' responses must also be assessed, she added.

"Kailangan din tingnan if we can maintain the current health system's capacity. 'Yung shortened detection to isolation, kaya ba to maintain itong apat na araw lang? 'Yung active case finding mapagpapatuloy ba natin yan, 'yung intensive contact tracing at testing at immediate isolation," she explained.

[Translation: We also need to see if we can maintain the current health system's capacity. Can we maintain the duration for shortened detection to isolation to only four days? Can we sustain active cases finding, intensive contact tracing, testing and immediate isolation?]

Metro Manila has been under Alert Level 4 ever since the COVID-19 alert level system was first piloted last month.

Roque likewise agreed with Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion that further easing of restrictions is necessary to allow ailing businesses to pay their workers' 13th month pay.

"Kinakailangan po ito para mas marami sa atin ang makapag-hanapbuhay. Alam naman ninyo, paulit-ulit kong sinasabi wala pong tamad na Pilipino. Kinakailangan lang hayaang magtrabaho at mag-hanapbuhay," the spokesperson added.

[Translation: This is necessary so that more of us can work. As you all know, I've said multiple times that no Filipino is lazy. He just needs to be allowed to work and make a living.]

Concepcion earlier said the private sector wants the capital region to ease to Alert Level 3 by the last quarter of 2021 so they can make up for losses as consumer spending is expected to surge in time for the holidays.

CNN Philippines correspondent Crissy Dimatulac contributed to this report.