The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday, Sept. 20 said the effects of the implementation of the new alert level scheme in Metro Manila will likely be seen after two to three weeks.
"We just started our implementation of this pilot in the National Capital Region just last week, so we expect that we will see changes in two to three weeks’ time after we have started this pilot implementation. It’s too early now to say that there is that effect already," said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire in an interview with ANC's Headstart.
She said the Department of Health also agrees with the advice of some medical groups that the new scheme must be coupled with increased pandemic response.
"That is what we are precisely doing in this policy shift that we have implemented. The basic objective of this policy shift is for us to be able to strengthened and to upped our different interventions," she added.
Aside from the granular lockdowns, Vergeire said there were also other interventions such as active case-finding, intensive tracing of contacts, testing, immediate isolation, and improvement in vaccination coverage.
"If we will be able to be successful in implementing this kind of policy shift, we can see the improvement in the number of cases in about two to three weeks’ time," she said.
Vergeire also noted the government is now capable of conducting an average of 70,000 to 80,000 tests per day.
"We have increased already our testing capacity and we have added the rapid antigen tests. We have improved on this aspect, but of course there is still room for improving this," she told ANC.
Vergeire, however, stressed the inappropriate use of antigen tests of some local governments and individuals.
"We have intended to use this rapid antigen so that it can help them track those who are close contacts, those who have symptoms, and in the general population when they do their active case finding and if there's an outbreak, you can use that," she said.
"Some of the local governments and individuals are using this to screen employees, are using this to screen for events, and that is really inappropriate," Vergeire added.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases or IATF-EID approved the guidelines for the pilot implementation of granular lockdowns with new alert levels system in Metro Manila, Malacanang announced last Sept. 13.
The Philippines on Sunday, Sept. 19, recorded 19,271 additional coronavirus disease cases, bringing the country's tally to 2,366,749.