Alert level rising in 3 provinces around Metro Manila


The Philippine government on Tuesday lifted the coronavirus alert in three provinces adjacent to the capital region as the country faces threats from the more transmissible variant of Omicron.

Bulacan, Rizal and Cavite, which are part of the so-called greater Manila area, are said to be placed under Alert Level 3 from January 5 to 15 “due to a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in localities particular, ”the presidential palace said, citing a resolution passed by an interagency task force.

Level 3 alert, above Level 2, means more mobility restrictions and lower operating capacity for some business establishments, among other limitations.

The recommendation was made by the pandemic task force’s data analysis group, he said.

Rizal and Cavite are part of the Calabarzon region in the southern and eastern sides of the National Capital Region, while Bulacan lies on the northern border.

On Monday, the Calabarzon region recorded more than 570 coronavirus infections, bringing its total to 500,173 with 5,815 deaths. The region, which produced 14.3% of the country’s gross domestic product in 2020, had 3,696 active cases as of Jan. 3.

Of the region’s total infections, 163,524 were from Cavite, which reported 270 cases on Monday. Rizal, meanwhile, recorded 149 infections on January 3, bringing his total to 105,560.

Bulacan, in the central Luzon region, recorded 185 cases on Monday, bringing its total to 105,524. The total number of cases in central Luzon, which contributed 10.4% of the country’s economic output last year, reached 282,971 after recording 275 infections on Jan.3.

The country is grappling with a new wave of infections, which experts say could strain the country’s health system.

Authorities must focus on community-based interventions and proven virus containment measures to stop the new wave of infections, the Coalition for Individuals’ Right to Health (CPRH) said in a statement.

“With the pandemic entering its third year in the Philippines and around the world, those engaged in the response should have learned lessons from the evidence to mitigate the spread of the virus,” he said in a statement.

The rights-based group of health advocates said that amid the surge in infections potentially spurred by the Omicron variant, “testing must finally be made free and accessible to all.”

He noted that the ceiling price for coronavirus testing remains expensive at P2 800 for the public and 3 360 P for private.

“Since the majority of testing labs are private, this further increases costs,” the CPRH said. To make matters worse, in December 2021, the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation reduced its coverage or subsidy for testing, with the overall benefit for PCR testing reduced to P 800-2800 from the old P901. -3,409. ”

“With 28 provinces still without a test laboratory and 3 others without a public establishment, the full aspect of testing is still neither free nor accessible to all Filipinos,” he added.

Aksyon Demokratiko senatorial candidate Carl E. Balita, registered nurse and midwife, said healthcare professionals in the Philippines continue to suffer from a lack of job security and adequate benefits.

“Without the looming Omicron wave, many nurses were facing non-renewal of their contracts,” he told the Pandesal forum.

“There was an average of 30,000 registered nurses per year for the past 20 years, and there is no reason the country suffers from a shortage of nurses, if only we give our Filipino nurses a reason. to stay in the country, ”he said.

The government should provide medical workers with free tests, said Rizal district representative Juan Fidel F. Nograles, stressing that these frontline people should not be burdened with such additional cost.

“It’s right for us to make sure that our modern day heroes, our front lines, don’t have to worry about the expense of testing and even managing the disease in case they get infected,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.

He said the free tests should cover all workers in medical facilities, quarantine facilities and pharmacists.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said it had allocated funds for mass testing, acknowledging it was crucial for the country’s recovery.

“We have allocated 7.921 billion pesos for COVID-19 lab work, which includes the purchase of kits and other equipment, transportation and training needed for mass testing,” said the director of DBM, U. Rolando Toledo. Business world in a Viber message.

He added that the Ministry of Interior and Local Government has a budget of 250 million pesos for contact tracing.

The CPRH also said that although vaccination is the key to deterring the pandemic, “testing remains essential to detect breakthrough infections.”

He urged the government to provide communities with accessible health information and services to address vaccine reluctance and the social determinants of infectious disease.

Senators on Tuesday called for an increase in immunization capacity, better information collection and stricter implementation of the protocol to support economic recovery despite the increase in COVID-19 cases.

“We should all be responsible enough to do our part to defeat the virus and save the lives of our people, especially now that our economy continues to take a hard hit,” said Senator Panfilo M. Lacson, Sr., candidate for the presidential election, in a Viber message.

Senator Ana Theresia “Risa” Hontiveros-Baraquel, meanwhile, called on the Ministry of Health to increase vaccination capacities. “Let us not wait for the situation to worsen to find a way to speed up our vaccination measures. “

She also noted the need to intensify the information campaign for booster doses and to increase free testing.

Metro mayors on Tuesday signed a resolution to pass local laws that will restrict the movement of unvaccinated residents.

The resolution taken by the Capital Region Development Authority is not legally effective if Metro mayors do not pass local ordinances, the Justice Department said in a Viber message to reporters.

Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevara said local legislative councils exercise police power delegated to them by the local government code, which was promulgated by Congress. “This delegated police power authorizes them to pass ordinances they deem to be for the welfare of their constituents.”

He said it is up to the courts to determine whether the measure is oppressive and could violate the country’s charter. “Unless judicially restricted, however, these public health measures can effectively be enforced and enforced.”

The government aims to inject more coronavirus vaccines amid the threat of the Omicron variant, which has caused outbreaks around the world.

Earlier, the government failed to meet its goal of fully immunizing 54 million people by the end of 2021.

About 50.16 million people have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus as of January 3, according to data from the Department of Health. Almost two million booster shots have been injected.

A pandemic official had previously expressed confidence that the target set last year would be reached as early as this week. – Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza, Alyssa Nicole O. Tan, and Jaspearl Emerald G. Tan

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