Shorter curfew for Metro Manila

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    Mayors say COVID cases, repro rate dropping

    BY NOEL TALACAY and GERARD NAVAL

    THE 17 mayors of Metro Manila have decided to impose a shorter, four-hour curfew period for the National Capital Region starting today, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Benhur Abalos Jr. said yesterday

    The curfew period, now from midnight to 4 a.m., was shortened from the former 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. because of the “declining number of COVID-19 cases” in Metro Manila, Abalos, also chairman of the Metro Manila Council, said in a press conference.

    Abalos also noted the Department of Health’s statement on Monday that the conduct of rapid and efficient detect-and-isolate strategies, and enhanced vaccination efforts, among others, resulted in a decrease in the number of COVID-19 active cases in the region.

    “Everything is going down. The number of COVID-19 cases are declining as well as the reproduction rate, according to DOH data and OCTA Research,” he said.

    Abalos said the curfew needs to be relaxed also to help businesses and workers in the gradual reopening of the economy which is still badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The OCTA Research group which monitors the COVID-19 situation in the country, said the Metro Manila remains on its way to being reclassified as “low risk” by the end of October.

    In a social media post, OCTA Research fellow Guido David said the seven-day average in the NCR decreased to 1,933 cases for the period of October 5 to 11. “This is the lowest since July 31 to August 6, before the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) was implemented in the region,” he said.

    The period of July 31 to August 6 saw Metro Manila post a daily average of 1,915 cases.

    The NCR was placed under enhanced community quarantine from August 6 to 20 to address the then increasing number of cases.

    David said the reproduction number in Metro Manila has decreased to 0.61 from 0.74 for the period of September 28 to October 4.

    The NCR, epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines, has also positivity rate of 12 percent.

    OCTA said the current average daily attack rate (ADAR) in the region is 13.65 per 100,000 population.

    Last Sunday, David said they are anticipating the NCR will be classified as “low risk” by the end of October based on the prevailing trend.

    BED UTILIZATION

    With COVID-19 cases declining, the DOH reported that the utilization rate of intensive care unit (ICU) beds in Metro Manila has dropped to “moderate risk.”

    This after the ICU rate in the region dropped from 74.9 percent on October 1 to 68.95 percent as of October 9. This means that out of the 1,523 dedicated COVID-19 ICU beds, 1,018 are occupied.

    The DOH also noted a significant decline in COVID-19 dedicated bed utilization in Metro Manila, although it remained at “moderate risk” classification. The COVID-19 bed utilization rate in Metro Manila dipped to 50.79 percent on October 9 from 59.25 percent last October 1.

    This means that out of the 10,667 COVID-19 beds in Metro Manila, 5,538 are occupied.

    Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire assured the public that the healthcare system is capable of managing cases of persistent health problems affecting some COVID-19 survivors, or “long COVID.”

    But she said more information is needed to better handle long COVID cases, and the DOH is waiting results of a study being conducted by the Department of Science and Technology and and the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) on the long-term effects of COVID-19.

    The government is setting up an oxygen command center in every region in the country for COVID patients, Defense Secretary and National Task Force against COVID-19 chairman Delfin Lorenzana said on Monday night.

    Lorenzana, in a report to President Duterte, said the One Oxygen Command Center is similar to the command center that was established in the Zamboanga Peninsula region last month to facilitate the intra-regional movement of medical oxygen. He said a “green lane” will also be set up in all ports for faster delivery of medical oxygen.

    Other details were not available.

    President Duterte, on Monday night, said he expects that most, if not all, major cities throughout the country to either hit or surpass its goal of fully vaccinating half of their target population before Christmas.

    The President, in his bi-weekly Talk to the People, said to date, more than 23 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated nationwide while in Metro Manila, almost 77 percent or more than 7.5 million individuals are fully vaccinated.

    Duterte said the number of those vaccinated is expected to increase with the steady arrival of vaccines.

    “The challenge is now to further speed up our vaccination rollout, especially in the provinces, in the key cities and municipalities to achieve our target of at least 50 percent of the country’s target population by the end of the year. We are confident that most, if not all, major cities in the country will hit and even surpass this target before Christmas, hopefully,” he said in mixed English and Filipino.

    Duterte previously said the target is to fully vaccinate 35 million to 50 million of the targeted population by Christmas while and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said 80 the goal of government is increase its target of vaccination coverage to 70 percent by next year or at least reach 80 percent to 90 percent of the population by February. With Jocelyn Montemayor