WHO: Vaccination coverage in NCR not enough to ease restrictions

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 14) — The World Health Organization's representative to the country said even with the "significant" number of people vaccinated in the National Capital Region, it still would not justify relaxing restrictions.

"We have significant population coverage within NCR, I believe it's about 60% now, but this is not adequate at this point to relax our current quarantine positions," Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe said in a briefing on Tuesday.

He said the government must be "very careful in calibrating" how it responds to the current situation as any increase in current transmission levels might overwhelm the hospital system.

"So far, the healthcare system has been holding up and that's largely because we are seeing fewer cases among the vaccinated, particularly in NCR," said Abeyasinghe.

On Monday, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) released the guidelines in the implementation of alert levels in Metro Manila.

EXPLAINER: What you need to know about the COVID-19 alert level system in NCR

In an interview with CNN Philippines, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said Metro Manila will be placed under general community quarantine (GCQ) with Alert Level 4 from Sept. 16 to 30.

During the Laging Handa briefing, Health undersecretary Ma. Rosario Vergeire said the reasons for the policy shift to alert levels were because people were more mobile during the latest ECQ, adding that most cases in NCR only came from a small proportion of barangays.

She said model projections showed that lower cases can be achieved if improvements are made in minimum public health standards, better case detection-to-isolation time, and increased vaccination coverage.