IATF favors placing NCR under Alert Level Four
The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) is considering placing the National Capital Region (NCR) under Alert Level Four, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III told dzBB on Saturday.
''We want to declare Alert Level Four even though healthcare utilization rate is low risk, it can easily go to moderate risk,'' said Duque. NCR is under Alert Level Four until January 15.
Infectious disease expert Rontgene Solante said in the ''Laging Handa'' virtual public briefing that he favors NCR moving to Alert Level Four.
''With the hospital facilities now, shortage of healthcare workers, and most of patients with higher transmissibility in the community, then in my opinion I think we need a higher level than what we have now,'' said Solante.
Solante estimates that around one third of healthcare workers have symptoms.
Duque also pointed out that the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) showed the IATF pictures that few vehicles are on the road and less commuters are going out.
MMDA General Manager Romando Antes said MMDA chairman Benhur Abalos may announce the recommendation of Metro Manila mayors if a higher alert level is needed.
But cases have gone up from 889 on December 29, 2021 to 21, 289 on January 7, with Duque pointing out cases have increased two-fold after two days.
During the last surge of COVID-19 cases, the country's highest one-day tally was 26, 303 on Sept. 11, 2021.
''It is not remote that NCR will be under Alert Level Four,'' he added.
Duque did not say if this is driven by the Omicron variant but he stressed that ''we have to assume this is caused by the Omicron variant plus the Delta variant.''
He urged people to get their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine and for those who last had their second dose three months ago to get their booster shots.
''Our vaccines are 65 percent effective against the Omicron variant and it you get a booster, the vaccines are 81 percent effective,'' said Duque. DMS