OCTA: There are 'good indicators' Metro Manila can gradually ease restrictions

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 25) — The national government can now consider gradually easing quarantine restrictions in Metro Manila due to "good indicators" of an improving COVID-19 situation over the past days, the OCTA Research Group said Tuesday.

"All the indicators are good. We believe that the national government can seriously consider easing some restrictions in NCR while still keeping an eye on possible risk elements," OCTA Research Fellow Guido David told CNN Philippines' The Source.

David cited the downgraded risk classification in the region from high risk to moderate risk, with a seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases now at around 1,100 per day. The Department of Health said Monday that the previous average was 1,500 a day.

He said the positivity rate in Metro Manila — or the percentage of all COVID-19 tests that turned out positive — further went down to 10%.

The reproduction number, which refers to the number of people who can get the virus from a COVID-19 positive person, has also dropped to 0.57.

"We don't recommend easing all restrictions all at once. We always recommend easing restrictions gradually because we want to avoid situations, like what we say in a pool party in the NCR where a lot got infected," David said, referring to the so-called superspreader events in Quezon City where over 50 residents tested positive for COVID-19.

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"Those situations can seriously reverse and threaten our pandemic management in the NCR, so situations like that should be avoided," David noted.

Meanwhile, David recommended further monitoring of the increase in COVID-19 cases in areas outside NCR Plus such as Davao City, Puerto Princesa City, Bacolod City, Iloilo City, and Cagayan de Oro City.

He also stressed the importance of inoculating 50% of the population in Metro Manila, as well as Tuguegarao, Baguio, Cainta, Cebu, and Imus to achieve herd immunity.

"We hope 50% of the population who are vaccinated will help us tremendously in restoring the economy and accelerating recovery. This will trickle down to other provinces and LGUs that are not high risk," David said.

As of Monday, around 4.3 million vaccine doses have been administered in the Philippines, according to National Task Force Deputy Chief Implementer Vince Dizon. Some 3.3 million people have received their first shot, while 986,000 have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The government is targeting the inoculation of 70 million Filipinos by yearend to achieve herd immunity.