The Metro Manila Council (MMC) has decided to retain the Alert Level 3 status for the National Capital Region (NCR), citing enough restrictions in place and only a slight increase in the region’s healthcare utilization rate (HCUR) despite the increasing number of Covid-19 infections.
In a virtual presser on Monday, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chair Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos Jr., said the MMC — composed of the 17 NCR mayors — have agreed to maintain the current restrictions in a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) last Friday.
“In the meantime, the mayors see no need to escalate to Alert Level 4,” Abalos said.
He took note of the current restrictions in place against the unvaccinated, which make up about 85 percent of those with severe and critical Covid-19 symptoms and 93 percent of deaths.
“This was made precisely to protect the unvaccinated. Nakita naman natin na karamihan ng apektado pagdating sa fatality and severity ay ang mga unvaccinated (We can see that most of those affected when it comes to fatality and severity are the unvaccinated),” Abalos said.
The MMDA announcement quashed rumors that circulated last week about an impending hard lockdown.
The fake information originated from two audio recordings that asked the public to stack up on food and other essential items as the government would impose the strictest quarantine measure anew.
“The NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) has started tracking these purveyors of false information and will arrest them,” Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told reporters via text message.
“They will be charged, among others, with unlawful use of publication and unlawful utterances under the Revised Penal Code, in relation to the cybercrime law. I ask netizens to stop sharing these voice clips to prevent alarm, panic buying, and hoarding of essential goods,” he added.
Citing data from the Department of Health (DOH), Abalos said most breakthrough infections or infections among the vaccinated present mild symptoms or are asymptomatic.
“’Yung effect, hindi ganun kalaki. It’s just karamihan asymptomatic, very mild. But look at the effect on those unvaccinated. Talagang grabe po (The effect, it’s not too big. Most are asymptomatic or are very mild. But look at the effect on those unvaccinated. It’s too much),” Abalos said.
On the other hand, he said the HCUR in NCR between January 8 and 9, 2022 only showed a “slight increase” and is still within the metrics for Alert Level 3.
Based on DOH data, 51 percent of beds at intensive care units were full on January 8 and rose to 52 percent of January 9, isolation beds decreased from 51 percent to 50 percent, ward beds increased from 62 percent to 65 percent, and the usage of ventilators decreased from 27 percent to 26 percent.
“We are consistently monitoring the region’s HCUR rate and we assure that the NCR mayors are ready in case the metrics show the need to escalate Metro Manila to alert level 4,” Abalos said.
In addition, he said the MMDA has monitored less traffic on the road and fewer people in malls.
He encouraged the public to continue regulating outdoor activities and to seek medical advice via telemedicine to avoid congestion in hospitals.
“We need the cooperation of all. Let us follow the guidelines set by the DOH and continue to observe minimum health protocols,” Abalos said. (PNA)