After WHO warning, DOH says alert level system meant to refocus response not relax restrictions

The Department of Health (DOH) on Saturday explained that the new alert level system being tested in Metro Manila is not meant to relax quarantine restrictions but to refocus the government’s COVID-19 response.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire made the explanation after World Health Organization (WHO) country representative Rabindra Abeyasinghe advised against relaxing quarantine restrictions, considering the current number of vaccinated individuals in the country.

“I think maraming tao ang nagkakaroon ng maling pananaw dito sa ginagawa nating pilot implementation. So hindi po tayo nagluluwag, una po ‘yan. Kailangan pong maintindihan natin na nag-restrategize po tayo para mas may focus ang ating response,” she said.

(I think a lot of people have the wrong impression regarding this pilot implementation. We are not relaxing the protocols. We need to understand that we restrategized so that our response will be more focused.)

Vergeire said the government is “focusing more” on the highly-burdened areas. This, she said, is the reason behind the granular lockdowns.

She reiterated that the new lockdown system will also focus on the framework of 3Cs or the restrictions on indoor activities (closed), crowding (crowded), and activities where the minimum health standards are not observed (close contact).

“Mas focused ang ating intervention for the objective na bumaba ang transmission ng kaso sa bawat lugar at mapaigting ng local government ang kanilang response para po patuloy mapababa ang kaso sa ating bansa,” Vergeire said.

(We have a more focused intervention with the objective of reducing the transmission in each area and also strengthening the response of the local governments so that we can bring down the number of cases in the country.)

Last Tuesday, Abeyasinghe acknowledged the “significant” vaccination coverage in the National Capital Region. However, he said it is not “adequate at this point to relax quarantine positions.”

He warned that a further increase in the current transmission levels could lead to an overwhelming of the healthcare systems.

Metro Manila was placed under alert level 4 during the first week of the pilot implementation of the alert level system for COVID-19.

The following are the guidelines for the implementation of Alert Level 4:

Prohibited from movement are people below 18 years old, over 60 years old, those with comorbidities or immunodeficiency, as well as those who are pregnant; Private establishments in minimal on-site capacity; work-from-home and flexible work arrangement; Agencies and instrumentalities of the government in at least 20% on-site capacity; and 3Cs activities are not allowed

–KG, GMA News

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