Metro Manila to start pilot run of new COVID-19 alert level system on Sept. 16

By: Daphne Galvez – Reporter / @DYGalvezINQINQUIRER.net / 10:56 PM September 13, 2021Metro Manila skyline at night

The Metro Manila skyline at night (File photo by RICHARD A. REYES / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines — The pilot run of a new COVID-19 alert level system, which will be coupled with granular lockdowns, will be implemented in Metro Manila starting on Thursday, Sept. 16, Malacañang said Monday night.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the shift to localized lockdowns with a corresponding alert level system from the previous community-wide restrictions is a “new classification framework to further curb the spread of COVID-19 and its variants.”ADVERTISEMENThttps://912af98fcd74e5bd01158b4bc63797f8.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

The government’s pandemic task force, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), released on Monday the guidelines for the new alert level system.

According to Roque, under this new framework, the government will “proactively advocate the “3Cs” strategy,  which stands for the three situations to avoid — closed, crowded, close contact.

“We should strive for total health and this can only be realized by carefully balancing our COVID-19 response by considering both the health of our people and the economic health of our nation, which this policy shift is all about,” he said in a statement.

Following is the description of the alert levels:

Alert Level 1:  COVID-19 transmission in the area is low and decreasing and the total bed utilization rate, and intensive care unit utilization rates are also low.

Alert Level 2: COVID-19 transmission in the area is low and decreasing and healthcare utilization is low, or the transmission is low but increasing, and total bed utilization rate and intensive care unit utilization rates are increasing.

Alert Level 3: COVID-19 transmission and high and/or increasing and the total bed and ICU utilization rates are also increasing.

Alert Level 4: COVID-19 transmission is high and/or increasing and the total bed and ICU utilization rates are also high.

Alert Level 5: The highest alert level, refers to areas where COVID-19 transmission is alarming and the total bed and ICU utilization rates are critical.ADVERTISEMENT

The Department of Health will help identify the alert level of an area, the classification of which will be done weekly, according to the IATF resolution.

Close contacts of probable and confirmed COVID-19 cases, regardless of vaccination status and a negative test result, will have to undergo a 14-day quarantine.

Local government units in pilot areas are required to submit daily data on their COVID-19 cases.

Under the IATF resolution, city and town mayors have the authority to impose granular lockdowns in areas under their jurisdiction.

Granular lockdowns should last for no shorter than 14 days.

The Philippine National Police is tasked to ensure peace and order and that security protocols are maintained in areas under lockdown.

According to the resolution, the previous list of authorized persons outside of their residences (APOR) will not apply in areas under granular lockdown.

Only healthcare workers and other personnel working in hospitals, laboratories, and dialysis facilities, and uniformed personnel are allowed to move into and out of areas under lockdown.

The following will be allowed to enter or exit granular lockdown areas for specific purposes:

  • overseas Filipino workers bound for international travel and those returning to their residences after completing facility-based quarantine upon arrival
  • individuals living in areas under granular lockdown may enter to their homes but must remain there for the duration of the lockdown
  • individuals under exceptional circumstances such as, but not limited to, those seeking urgent medical attention as validated by the municipality or city health officer
  • food and essential items for delivery can only be unloaded at border collection points designated by the city or town government

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