Shift to Alert Level 4 possible once HCUR increases: Palace

MANILA – The national government will not think twice about escalating the alert level status in the National Capital Region (NCR) and neighboring areas should the healthcare utilization rate (HCUR) reach the threshold for Alert Level 4, Malacañang said on Monday.

This, according to Acting Presidential Spokesperson, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles after the Department of Health (DOH) announced that there is a probability that Metro Manila will shift to Alert Level 4 from the current Alert Level 3 amid the soaring number of Covid-19 cases.

“We are actively monitoring all of the metrics and parameters na dapat natin tignan (that we need to look at) and even over and above that. As of the moment, hindi pa po siya tumatama doon sa tatlong metrics natin (it is not meeting the metrics) enough for us to declare Alert Level 4. But immediately pag tumama po ‘yan (when it does), we will not hesitate to declare Alert Level 4 in any area or escalate any area to Alert Level 3,” he said in an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel’s Headstart.

Nograles explained that to qualify for a shift to a higher Alert Level 4, the country’s two-week growth rate, average daily attack rate (ADAR), and healthcare utilization rate should all be in “high” levels.

He said the first two metrics are currently high, but the healthcare utilization rate remains at a “moderate” level.

“As of the moment, ang Metro Manila nasa (is) moderate pa tayo sa (in terms of) total bed utilization natin so it’s not enough for us to declare Alert Level 4,” he added.

Nograles said the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) Sub-Technical Working Group (sTWG) on Data Analytics has recommended implementing an increase in the availability of bed capacity in hospitals and Temporary Treatment and Monitoring Facilities (TTMFs) in NCR and surrounding areas (NCR Plus).

NCR Plus is composed of the NCR and the nearby provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan, and Rizal.

He said the availability of healthcare workers would also be among the qualifications of determining a “functional” healthcare capacity.

“We’re also looking at updating the available healthcare workers natin to be made part of functional bed capacities. So hindi lang siya dapat tignan 'yung (So we should not only look at) physical beds available in hospitals, but also looking at how many healthcare workers are available. So that will now become our equivalent of a functional bed capacity,” he said.

He added that the National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19 Health Facilities Sub-Cluster and the DOH Knowledge Management and Information Technology Service were instructed to increase the capacity of telehealth and telemedicine outside NCR.

Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing and vaccination efforts will also be increased, he added.

Fewer hospitalizations

Meanwhile, Nograles expressed optimism that getting fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and getting booster shots would prevent the country’s healthcare utilization rate from reaching alarming levels.

“This is what we’re seeing right now, those who are fully vaccinated only get mild symptoms or are even asymptomatic or are resolved in two days, three days… This is where the effect of full vaccination comes into play. We’re seeing less hospitalization from fully vaccinated,” he said.

He renewed his call to the public to get fully vaccinated as well as get their boosters to protect themselves and others from Covid-19.

“We got to get more people fully vaccinated and boosted,” he added.

On Sunday, the Philippines recorded the highest number of Covid-19 cases in a day since the pandemic started with 28,707 new cases bringing the total caseload to 2,965,447.

Positivity rate has now also increased to 44 percent of the 77,479 tests conducted, which is more than double of last week’s 19.60 percent, and much higher than the World Health Organization’s threshold of 5 percent which indicated controlled transmission of the disease. (PNA)


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