MANILA, Philippines – After a record-breaking surge in infections driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant, virus epicenter Metro Manila is now deemed “moderate risk” for COVID-19, Health Undersecretary Maria Vergeire said on Friday, January 28.
“Moderate risk na ang NCR (National Capital Region) kahapon pa. Bumaba na po nang husto ang mga kaso at dumating na tayo sa moderate risk classification,” Vergeire said during the regular press briefing of Acting Presidential Spokesperson Karlo Nograles.
(NCR has been under moderate risk since yesterday. Cases have gone down and we we were able to reach moderate risk classification.)
The health spokesperson said average daily COVID-19 cases in the capital region dropped by 67% compared to the previous week. Three weeks ago, on January 4, Metro Manila had been classified as “critical risk” for the virus.
“Ngayon po ang average po ng NCR is just at 4,398, seven-day moving average for their daily cases. Kumpara po natin last week, ang average po natin noon ay about 13,298. Malaki na po ang binababa,” she said.
(Now, average cases in NCR is at 4,398, the seven-day moving average for their daily cases. Compared to last week, we had an average of 13,298 cases. Cases have gone down so much.)
Bulacan and Rizal have also been downgraded to moderate classification. However, cases in Visayas and Mindanao are on an upward trend.
“Ang binabantayan po natin ngayon ay Visayas and Mindanao,” Vergeire said. (We are closely monitoring cases in Visayas and Mindanao.)
Two weeks ago, the Department of Health (DOH) issued new testing guidelines for COVID-19, prioritizing symptomatic patients and vulnerable groups, such as health workers, senior citizens, and individuals with comorbidities. A coronavirus-positive close contact who is asymptomatic would no longer need to undergo a test. Rappler has asked the DOH whether this new testing protocol contributed to the decline in cases. We will update this story once we receive a reply.
On Thursday, January 27, the DOH reported that 91.29% or 618 of the 677 COVID-19 samples were positive for Omicron, adding that the majority have the BA.2 subvariant or “stealth Omicron.” (READ: What we know so far about Omicron subvariant BA.2)
Metro Manila and other high-risk areas in the country are under Alert Level 3 until January 31. Nograles said that Malacañang will make an announcement this weekend regarding the alert level status of the capital region and the rest of the country.
Meanwhile, a doctors’ group warned against loosening quarantine restrictions in Metro Manila. Dr. Maricar Limpin of the Philippine College of Physicians said that the current number of cases may not reflect the actual COVID-19 infections as many people were not getting tested.
Limpin said it would probably be safe to lower the alert level in Metro Manila after February 15. – Rappler.com