Govt to implement alert level system in some provinces starting Oct. 20

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 19) — The government will implement the COVID-19 alert level system in some provinces beginning Oct. 20, Malacañang announced on Tuesday.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the following provinces will be under alert levels until Oct. 31.

Alert Level 4 — Negros Oriental, Davao Occidental

Alert Level 3 — Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Siquijor, Davao City, and Davao del Norte

Alert Level 2 — Batangas, Quezon Province, Lucena City, Bohol, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City, Cebu Province, Davao de Oro, Davao del Sur, and Davao Oriental

Roque said the implementation of the alert level system outside the National Capital Region is still part of the government’s pilot testing of the scheme. He noted that the government will only implement the system nationwide if it is already proven effective.

“Kung mapapansin niyo po, ilang rehiyon pa lang ang na-include,” he said.

[Translation: If you will notice, only a few regions were included.]

“Pero sabihin natin ‘yung pagbaba ng mga kaso at pag-improve ng healthcare utilization rate ay parang may kinalaman po sa alert level system na in-adopt natin sa Metro Manila, dahilan para palawagin pa natin ‘yung ating pilot implementation,” he added.

[Translation: But we can say that the decline in COVID-19 cases and improvement of the healthcare utilization rate in Metro Manila under the alert level system we adopted could be the reason why we expanded the pilot implementation.]

As of Oct .18, government data showed the following utilization rates in NCR: 59% of intensive care unit beds, 43% of ward beds, and 45% of available ventilators for COVID-19 patients.

The pilot implementation of the alert level system started in Metro Manila on Sept. 16. The capital region has shifted to a more relaxed Alert Level 3 from Oct. 16 to 31.

Compared to the community quarantine, the alert level system allows more business establishments to operate but with a limited capacity and imposes granular or localized lockdowns instead of wide-scale ones.

Alert Level 2 in NCR?

Meanwhile, Malacañang believes that the alert level system in NCR could be further downgraded soon only if daily COVID-19 cases continue to improve.

"Titignan natin ang datos pagdating ng end of the month, kasi talagang tayo ay data driven. So kung talagang further bababa yung daily case average, two-week attack rate, at healthcare utilization rate, anything is possible," said Roque. "Pero di po ito mangyayari kung magpapabaya po ang ating mga kababayan."

[Translation: We will see the data by the end of the month, because we are data driven. So if the daily case average, two-week attack rate, and healthcare utilization rate will further decline, anything is possible. Pero this will be impossible if our people will become complacent.]

Dr. Edsel Salvaña, infectious diseases specialist and a member of the Health department's technical advisory group, said Monday that mobility restrictions in NCR could be further eased up if COVID-19 infections keep declining.

The OCTA Research group said that the virus reproduction rate in the capital region is now at 0.55.

The country on Oct. 18 recorded 6,943 new cases, marking the eighth straight day new infections stayed below 10,000.