Metro Manila to remain under Alert Level 3 unless healthcare utilization rate breaches 70%

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 13) — Metro Manila would only be escalated to a stricter Alert Level 4 if the capital region’s healthcare utilization rate breaches 70%, the Department of Health said Thursday.

Metro Manila mayors earlier recommended that the Alert Level 3 status of the capital region be retained beyond January 15.

“Right now, the healthcare utilization rate is at, I would say, about 55%, 56% for NCR, the ICU and the isolation bed utilization rates. They are within the moderate risk classification,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III told CNN Philippines’ The Source.

“So unless this one breaches your 70% utilization rate, both for total beds and ICU, we will recommend to keep the status quo,” he added.

Metro Manila was placed under Alert Level 3 from January 1 to 15 amid the uptick in COVID-19 cases and the threat of the Omicron variant. Nearby provinces such as Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, and Laguna and 14 more areas are also under Alert Level 3 until Jan. 15.

Meanwhile, the government on Wednesday also elevated 28 other areas to Alert Level 3 from January 14 to 31.

“They have been escalated to Alert Level 3 precisely because of the speed of the spread and also because of the increased risk for more and more communities affected with COVID-19. So, they are now considered high-risk classification and this is equivalent to escalating to Alert Level 3,” said Duque.

Areas under Alert Level 3 have high and increasing case counts, and the bed and intensive care unit utilization rate are also increasing.

Face-to-face classes, contact sports, amusement parks, live concerts, and casinos are prohibited in Alert Level 3 areas. Under such alert level status, the IATF only allows 30% maximum capacity for fully vaccinated individuals only and 50% outdoor venue capacity.

Aside from Metro Manila, Duque said they are also monitoring Calabarzon, Central Luzon, Ilocos Region, and Cordillera Administrative Region. He added that there is also a continuing increase in cases in Western Visayas.

The Philippines on Wednesday broke another COVID-19 record with 208,164 active cases. The country’s daily cases hit all-time on Monday with 33,169 new infections.