MANILA, Jan 12 (Mabuhay) — There is no need yet to escalate the existing Alert Level 3 in Metro Manila even amid the surge of COVID-19 cases, a World Health Organization (WHO) official said Wednesday.

Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO Country Representative to the Philippines, made the position less than three days before the Alert Level 3 prevailing in Metro Manila lapses.

“We are looking closely at Alert Level 3, and we saw significant reduction in mobility. And if yesterday’s reduction in numbers is any indication, maybe the current Alert Levels are adequate,” he said during the Laging Handa briefing.

He was referring to new COVID-19 cases recorded last January 11 which went down at 28,000 from the record setting level of 33,000 new COVID-19 cases in a day last January 10.

“We are very conscious of increasing Alert Level and restrictions, and [we will do it] if we see signs that our health care systems are being overwhelmed. Right now, we do not see that,” Abeyasinghe pointed out.

“Our projection is that the Philippines, even if current trends continue until the end of the month, the red line analysis is that we can manage the health care system until January 27 to 28, and with trends yesterday, we may even manage even beyond that,” he added.

The WHO official echoed an earlier Palace argument that the utilization of the healthcare system has yet to breach moderate risk level of 71%, thus the absence of the need to escalate the alert level in Metro Manila which is the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

The Alert Level 3 protocol prohibits in person classes for basic education, karaoke and indoor entertainment, gatherings of people not belonging to the same household, casino/horse racing/cockfighting operations and contact sports except for bubble set up.

Abeyasinghe said individuals must ensure compliance with minimum public health standards of wearing face mask, observing hygiene and social distancing, as well as isolate or be in quarantine once they feel COVID-19 symptoms, to prevent further restrictions.

“By doing that, we reduce the risk of transmission rather than go on restrictions which have serious economic consequences. We should try to keep the economy open, until we see that the current Alert Levels are not working,” he added. (MNS)

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