WHO exec advises against relaxing restrictions in NCR despite significant vaccination coverage

An official of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday advised against relaxing mobility restrictions in the National Capital Region (NCR) even as vaccination coverage continues to improve.

There are already six million fully vaccinated individuals in the NCR, representing 61% of the target population of around 9.8 million, based on government data.

“We have significant population coverage within NCR. I believe it’s about 60% now. But this is not adequate at this point to relax quarantine positions,” WHO country representative Rabindra Abeyasinghe said at the Laging Handa briefing.

“Now, you may recraft the terminology but basically what we are advising is make sure that those restrictions are followed, that we don’t relax too much because we are not in a position where we can relax and experience further worsening of this transmission level because our health systems are just holding up,” he added.

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

“That’s why we need to be very careful in calibrating how we respond to the current situation,” he said.

Metro Manila would be placed under Alert Level 4 during the first week of the pilot implementation of the alert level system for COVID-19 response beginning on Thursday.

In a statement, Department of Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the NCR is currently at high-risk case classification while intensive care utilization is also under high-risk classification.

Vergeire said the region maintained a moderate risk two-week growth rate (TWGR) of 28% and a high-risk average daily attack rate (ADAR) of 39.09 per 100,000 population.

The NCR has a high-risk intensive care utilization rate at 77.58%, while bed utilization is near high-risk classification at 69.58%, she added.

“During this time we must ramp-up active case finding, conduct risk-based testing using RT-PCR, and fast track vaccination among high-risk groups. There will also be intensified granular lockdowns from barangay down to the household level to contain transmission,” she said.

Food assistance will be given to the residents affected by the granular lockdowns, according to the Department of the Interior and Local Government. — RSJ, GMA News

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