Palace backs NCR shift to alert level 3

Malacañang on Thursday expressed support for Metro Manila’s proposed shift to a more lenient quarantine level, but stressed that the decision lies on health authorities.

In a televised briefing, presidential spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque cited the need to downgrade the region from alert level 4 to alert level 3 to ease up restrictions on business and movement and spur economic growth.

“Our metro mayors have proposed the region’s shift to alert level 3 and we are supporting it,” Roque said.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua expressed hopes that more businesses will be allowed to reopen next month.

“The new alert level system appears to be working since based on our data, our cases have been decreasing even if we allowed the further reopening of our economy,” he said in the same briefing.

The two officials, however, acknowledged that the Department of Health has the final say on the matter.

The pandemic task force will convene Thursday afternoon to discuss the quarantine classification that will be imposed in Metro Manila for the month of October.

Since mid-September, the capital region has been under alert level 4, the second strictest quarantine measure in the five-tier lockdown scheme set by the government.

Alert level 4 refers to areas where case counts were either high or increasing, with high bed and intensive care unit utilization rates.

On the other hand, areas under alert level 3 are places with high or increasing Covid-19 case counts with increasing total bed and ICU rates.

Some researchers monitoring pandemic figures, including those from independent group OCTA, have claimed that coronavirus transmission has been slowing down in Metro Manila.

The DOH, however, urged the public to be cautious in interpreting government data which suggest a downward trend in Covid-19 cases, noting that the number of swab tests conducted by laboratories has also decreased.

Home to more than 13 million people, the capital region accounts for more than 30 percent of the Philippines’ gross domestic product.

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