Duque hopeful for NCR Alert Level 1 by December, warns of possible surge due to crowding

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 22) — Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has said Metro Manila may be placed under the lowest alert level by December if the encouraging COVID-19 trend continues until the end of the year.

"We hope that this will continue and a downward trend becomes more definitive so we'll be able to deescalate from our current alert level three down to alert level two, and hopefully alert level 1 by first week of December," he said on Thursday.

Duque, however, warned that another surge is likely in the next four to six months due to the crowding in public spaces, such as the high volume of people visiting the Manila Baywalk Dolomite Beach.

"These are superspreader events," the health chief said. "This is a potential for a possible surge in the future, maybe four to six months."

"But hopefully we continue to discipline ourselves and comply with the minimum public health standards," he also said.

Philippine College of Physicians president Dr. Maricar Limpin, meanwhile, urged the government to look "very closely" at the data and ensure their accuracy when looking into placing the region under looser alert levels.

"I think we need to be very strategic and very calculating when we do changes in the alert level system...let us, number one, monitor the data very closely and then number two, not try to do things, make any changes so drastically," Limpin told CNN Philippines' The Exchange.

She also emphasized the importance of a "massive" information campaign when alert levels are downgraded.

Metro Manila is under Alert Level 3 until the end of October, but DOH is confident the capital region may ease to a lower level in the coming weeks if the cases continue to decline.

Aside from the improving situation in Metro Manila, the University of the Philippines COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team also said that daily cases, hospitalization rate, and positivity rate continue to improve across the country.