Alert Level 2 in NCR possible in coming weeks as COVID-19 cases decline - DOH

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 21) — Metro Manila may soon ease to Alert Level 2 if COVID-19 cases continue to decline this week, the Health department said Thursday.

Speaking to CNN Philippines' The Source, Health Undersecretary and spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire said the capital region currently has a seven-day average of 1,156 daily new cases, now getting closer to its figure prior to the March and April surge.

"Before the increase in cases last March and April, we were just averaging in NCR (National Capital Region) less than 500 a day. So I think that will be a comfortable number," she said.

"If this number continues to decline, it is very possible that we can be deescalated in the coming weeks," Vergeire noted.

She added that Metro Manila's positivity rate is now at 11%, and 17% at the national level.

Vergeire attributed the improving numbers to a better Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Treat-Reintegrate or PDITR strategy of the government, as well as the large number of residents vaccinated in the National Capital Region.

She noted that aside from the daily COVID-19 cases, hospital admissions are also decreasing, but ICUs are still at a 70% utilization rate since severe and critical cases take a longer period before they can get discharged.

The Department of Health reported on Wednesday 3,656 new COVID-19 cases nationwide, a new three-month-low in daily infections. Vergeire said they are monitoring other regions like the Cordillera Administrative Region, Cagayan Valley and Zamboanga Peninsula for a possible surge in cases.

COVID-19 watchdog OCTA Research said on Thursday that Metro Manila's COVID-19 reproduction number is at 0.47 as of Oct. 21. This is lower than the previously reported 0.52 as of Oct. 19, and 0.55 as of Oct. 18, which was the lowest since May. Medical experts have reiterated that the reproduction number should be one or less to indicate that community transmission is decreasing.

READ: DOH logs 3,656 new COVID-19 cases as technical issues hound data system anew 

"Hopefully all of us will not be complacent, all of us will work together so we can reach that goal of having the Alert Level 2 in NCR," Vergeire said.

Metro Manila is under a more relaxed Alert Level 3 from Oct. 16 to 31.