Gov’t fine-tunes alert level system | Inquirer News
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Gov’t fine-tunes alert level system

/ 05:32 AM December 04, 2021

QUIAPO CROWD CONTROL Black Nazarene devotees turn up in huge numbers for the month’s first Friday Mass at Quiapo Church in Manila, where volunteers have to enforce proper distancing even under more relaxed pandemic restrictions. —RICHARD A. REYES

The government’s pandemic task force has fine-tuned the metrics for its alert level system to avoid a sudden escalation to higher alert levels in case of a surge in cases due to the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

In its latest resolution, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) removed the one-week growth rate as a metric for escalation from alert level 1 to alert level 2.

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The resolution said areas on alert level 1 could be escalated to alert level 2 if either case classification or total COVID-19 bed utilization increases to moderate risk or higher.

Areas on alert level 2 could also be escalated to alert level 3 if both case classification and total COVID-19 bed utilization were at moderate risk, or if case classification was at high to critical risk.

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Revised metrics

Under the revised metrics, there would not be any shift to a higher alert level so long as case numbers remain low and fall within the parameters, said presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles.

“Our metrics are very, very transparent, and the IATF would not just do that [unless], based on the metrics and the parameters, we see that we need to elevate the alert level for any locality,” Nograles said in a press briefing.

Alethea de Guzman, epidemiologist of the Department of Health, said that in determining the alert level, two major metrics were used: the case transmission, which was based on the average daily attack rate and the two-week growth rate, and the total COVID-19 bed utilization rate.

She also said that before an area could be deescalated to alert level 1, the most relaxed level, they have to reach a certain level of vaccination coverage as well as safety seal coverage, she said.

PH on alert level 2

Based on the latest metrics, all areas in the country are on alert level 2, the second most relaxed level that allows businesses to operate only at 50-percent indoor capacity and 70-percent outdoor capacity.

So far, business establishments have expressed satisfaction with the current alert level.

Joey Concepcion, presidential adviser for entrepreneurship, who earlier wanted the Metro Manila alert level lowered, said it would be prudent to keep it under alert level 2 up to the end of the year.

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“I consulted some restaurant owners and other business establishments, and we think alert level 2 is OK. Business establishments are doing well because more people are going out, there is more mobility, which is good and that’s what we need and consumer spending has started to kick in,” Concepcion said at the Laging Handa briefing.

“While we can qualify for alert level 1, prudence says stay at alert level 2 so that we can sustain this even until the year 2022,” he said, noting that the government has begun preparing for the possible entry of the Omicron variant.

The IATF has imposed stricter testing and quarantine requirements for travelers coming from overseas.

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For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

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TAGS: alert level, COVID-19, Omicron
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