MANILA, Philippines – In areas under Alert Level 1, asymptomatic individuals who are close contacts of a positive case are no longer required to quarantine for as long as they are fully vaccinated, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Tuesday, March 1.
“Para po sa Alert Level 1 areas, kung kayo po ay asymptomatic, at close contact kayo ng isang positibong individual, at kayo ay fully vaccinated, wala na pong kailangan o zero days for quarantine pero kailangan ‘nyo po mag-self monitor,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a press briefing on Tuesday.
(For areas under Alert Level 1, if you are asymptomatic, close contact of positive case, and fully vaccinated, there’s no need for you to go quarantine or zero days of quarantine but you need to monitor yourself.)
The health spokesperson said that the pandemic task force officials had included this in the resolution placing Metro Manila and 38 other areas under Alert Level 1 or what the government considers as the “new normal.”
Under Alert Level 1, establishments and public transportation are allowed to be fully operational. There are also no restrictions on the movement of people from different age groups, though this is subject to specific rules that may vary among local government units.
Epidemiologist Edsel Salvaña, a member of the DOH Technical Advisory Group, said that the the rationale behind this was that the “risk of COVID-19 has gotten much lower, and there’s safety margin if you’re vaccinated.”
“Sa Alert Level 1, napakababa na po ng number of people who have COVID-19. The overall picture is ‘yung risk na ‘yun ay mas mababa,” he said. (In Alert Level 1 areas, there are a low number of people contracting COVID-19. The overall picture is that there’s a low risk.)
“Kung bakunado na po tayo, mas mababa po ‘yung chance na mahawa tayo at mababa rin po ang chance na kahit makalusot sa ‘tin ay makahawa tayo. At sa Alert Level 1, mataas na po ang vaccination,” Salvaña added.
(If you are vaccinated, there’s a lower chance of getting infected and there’s also a lower chance, if infected, to transmit it to other people. And in Alert Level 1 areas, there’s a high vaccination rate.)
As of February 20, over 100% of Metro Manila’s target population has been fully vaccinated, while 83.8% of seniors were covered.
In January, the DOH revised its testing protocol, prioritizing symptomatic patients and vulnerable groups, such as health workers (A1), senior citizens (A2), and individuals with comorbidities (A3).
The DOH also announced that it will stop its daily reports of new coronavirus cases. Instead, the department will issue only weekly bulletins reporting the number of severe cases and deaths and the occupancy rates of hospital intensive care units starting Monday, March 7.
After reeling from the surge in infections driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant, COVID-19 cases have been on a downward trend, with less than a thousand cases reported on Monday, February 28. – Rappler.com