Trade chief says declining COVID-19 cases, reproduction number must be sustained so alert level can go down.
Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez said the decline in new cases and the reproduction number in the National Capital Region has to be sustained until the end of September so Alert Level Four can be lowered to Alert Level Three.
''In the last five days, we have seen... cases going down, reproduction number less than one. We have to sustain that until the end of the month,'' Lopez told dzBB Sunday.
''It is better than three weeks ago, but we have to see cases and healthcare utilization going down,'' added Lopez.
NCR, considered the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, is under Alert Level 4 in a granular lockdown scheme which began on a pilot testing basis on Sept 16 until Sept. 30.
Streets, homes and business firms will be under two-week lockdown if there are positive COVID-19 cases.
The Philippine National Police said there are 259 areas under lockdown in the NCR as of Sept. 25. The highest was in the areas under the Northern Police District in 98 followed by the Manila Police District, 71, and 45 in the Quezon City Police District.
Lopez said businessmen's reactions were mixed. ''They said they were happy they were allowed to operate but the operating capacity is low and they cannot earn,'' he said. Lopez added businessmen said this is better than being closed.
Lopez said 15 percent of business establishments were closed two weeks ago. ''Now, 12 percent to 13 percent are closed. We can see gradual improvement'' he said.
He said if Alert Level Three will be imposed, operating capacity would go up by 30 percent. DMS