COVID Alert Level 1 shift in NCR being mulled by IATF; decision out before Feb. 15

Published February 9, 2022, 12:10 PM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

The government’s pandemic task force is set to discuss Metro Manila’s possible deescalation to Alert Level 1 for the second half of February 2022 and may make the announcement on the weekend, Malacañang said.


Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles made the statement following the reported decrease in the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the National Capital Region (NCR) that came after an alarming surge possibly fueled by the Omicron variant.

In an interview with Radyo Pilipinas on Wednesday morning, February 9, he said that the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease will meet on February 10 for a preliminary assessment of the COVID-19 situation in all regions of the country.

“Tomorrow meron po tayong IATF meeting, full IATF meeting ‘yan, Thursday. Pero dahil a-10 pa ng February, may ilang araw pa bago mag February 16, siguro preliminary assessment muna ang titingnan natin (We will have a full IATF meeting tomorrow, Thursday. But since it would be the 10th of February and there will be days away before the 16th, perhaps what we’ll make is a preliminary assessment),” he said.

“[By the] weekend, which is February 12 or 13, ay magakakaroon naman kami ng pagpupulong ng IATF para makita ang latest numbers and data ng iba’t ibang regions, kabilang ang NCR (the IATF will meet again to look at the latest numbers from the different regions including the NCR),” he added.

Nograles said they may announce the new risk classifications before February 15, reiterating that the IATF wants to make the announcement at the date nearest the start of the effectivity of the new alert levels.

“Maaaring mag-announce kami ng mga bagong alert levels either February 13 or February 14, Valentine’s. So, abangan na lang natin (We may announce the new alert levels either on February 13 or 14, Valentine’s Day. Let’s just wait),” he said.

“What we want to do sa IATF is the closer to February 16 ang aming assessment para yun ang latest numbers na makikita natin to make a final decision for alert levels system (to make our assessment the date closest to February 16 so we’ll see the latest numbers that will determine our final decision for the alert levels system),” he added.

Nograles had said that the following conditions must be met before any area could be placed under Alert Level 1:

  • A total bed utilization of less than 49 percent
  • A zero or decreasing two-week growth rate
  • An average daily attack rate of below one

Aside from these, the vaccination rate for the A2 (senior citizens) and A3 (persons with comorbidities) groups must be at least 70 percent. Establishments must also have the Safety Seal certification or ensure that minimum public health standards are followed.

Data from the Department of Health (DOH) showed that as of February 9, Metro Manila’s hospital utilization rate is at:

  • 35 percent utilized for ICU beds (1,300 total beds)
  • 29 percent utilized for isolation beds (4,600 total beds)
  • 31 percent utilized for the ward beds (4,200 total beds)
  • 18 percent utilized for ventilators (1,100 total units)

Under Alert Level 1, there are no restrictions in terms of indoor and outdoor capacities. Everyone is allowed to undertake intrazonal and interzonal travel without regard to age and even comorbidities.

All establishments, persons, or activities are likewise allowed to operate, work, or be undertaken at full on-site or venue seating capacity, provided these are consistent with minimum public health standards.

Meanwhile, face-to-face classes for basic education shall be subject to prior approval by the Office of the President.