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MANILA, Jan 10 (Mabuhay) — Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año said the recommendation to place the National Capital Region (NCR) under more stringent Alert Level 4 status will be discussed in the succeeding meetings of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).

This, as the OCTA Research Group on Sunday said the positivity rate in Metro Manila has exceeded 50 percent for the first time –50.5 percent as of January 7, 2022.

“This (Alert Level 4) will be discussed in the next IATF meeting,’’ Año said in a text message to Philippine News Agency on Sunday.

Metro Manila and four nearby provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal are under Alert Level 3.

The OCTA said the NCR logged the most number of the country’s Covid-19 cases from January 2 to 8 at 8,468 followed by Bacoor City with 218, Antipolo with 211, Cainta with 202, and Dasmariñas with 152.

On Sunday, the Department of Health (DOH) reported 28,707 new Covid-19 infections, the highest single-day tally since the pandemic started in March 2020.

Some 16,803 or 59 percent of new infections were recorded in NCR, increasing the country’s active cases to 128,114, and overall caseload to 2,965,447.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) reiterated its appeal to the public to strictly follow health protocols.

“We have seen photos of people standing in long queues outside the movie houses. Cinemas may have reopened in some areas with lower Covid Alert Level status, but this doesn’t mean that the minimum public health standard must be disregarded,” PNP Chief General Dionardo Carlos said in a statement.

He also urged the establishments allowed to operate by the local government units to strictly enforce the health protocols.

“We remain committed to assisting in the implementation of the protocol especially when the situation may be overwhelming already,” he said.

Carlos expects measures such as prohibiting food and drinks, wearing of face masks and the observance of physical distancing inside movie houses.

Meanwhile, Marikina City Mayor Marcelino Teodoro clarified that the use of face shields in the city is not mandatory.

“Dahil ito nga ay optional, walang kaakibat na penalty o multa ang hindi pagsusuot ng face shield. Kundi ito ay bahagi lamang ng ibayong pag-iingat o added precaution sa crowded o congested areas (Because it is optional, there is no penalty for not wearing a face shield. But this is only part of the added precaution in crowded or congested areas),” Teodoro said in a message to reporters.

DILG Undersecretary and spokesperson Jonathan Malaya warned that barangay officials may face charges if proven that the surge in Covid-19 cases in their jurisdiction was due to poor implementation of the minimum public health standards (MPHS), particularly the unabated outdoor activities of their unvaccinated residents.

“Madami pong mga pwedeng ifile sa kanila [barangay captains] for dereliction of duty, simple misconduct, negligence, madami pong pwede tayo, so alam naman yan ng kapitan (Many charges can be filed against them for dereliction of duty, simple misconduct, negligence, we many charges we can file, the barangay captains are aware of that),’’ Malaya said in a radio interview.

Metro Manila mayors earlier approved ordinances restricting the mobility of the unvaccinated and partially vaccinated individuals, particularly in indoor and al fresco dining, hotels, country clubs, and similar establishments.

Many business leaders, medical groups, and organizations have been pushing for the restrictions to be implemented nationwide amid the spike in infections and the threat of the Omicron coronavirus variant. (MNS)

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