PH stays under Alert Level 2 until Jan. 15

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 30) — The whole country will remain under Alert Level 2 from Jan. 1 to 15 despite the uptick in COVID-19 infections and growing concerns over the Omicron variant in the country, the Malacañang announced Thursday.

"The Inter-Agency Task Force on Wednesday, December 29, 2021, approved the recommendation to maintain all provinces, highly urbanized cities, and independent component cities under Alert Level 2 from January 1, 2022 to January 15, 2022," said Cabinet Secretary and acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles.

There are no aged-based mobility restriction under Alert Level 2. Areas under such status have low cases and decreasing virus transmission, or case counts are low but increasing, according to the IATF.

After the government announced the alert level status for January, the country saw a spike in COVID-19 infections - recording 1,623 fresh cases on Thursday.

The positivity rate - or percentage of tested people with positive results - also rose to 6.6% based on 30,933 tests reported on Dec. 28. Under World Health Organization standards, the ideal positivity rate is below 5% and must be maintained for at least 14 days for countries or regions to reopen.

Meanwhile, there are currently four detected cases of Omicron variant in the Philippines. The Department of Health (DOH) has identified 22 close contacts of the fourth person to test positive for the dreaded variant.

However, the DOH earlier said that if ever the new variant triggers a spike in cases, the country is now more prepared because of improved pandemic response and higher vaccination rates.