Ex-NTF adviser supports retention of Alert Level 1 in Metro Manila

Published May 28, 2022, 7:25 PM

by Charie Mae F. Abarca

The retention of Alert Level 1 status in Metro Manila is a good mandate despite the looming threat of monkeypox and Covid-19, said a health expert on Saturday, May 28.

(Jansen Romero / Manila Bulletin)

Health reform advocate and former special adviser of the National Task Force (NTF) against Covid-19 Dr. Anthony “Tony” Leachon said that he is in favor of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases’ (IATF) decision to retain the Alert Level 1 status in Metro Manila from June 1 until June 15, 2022.

“Nakita naman natin na after the Omicron surge hanggang ngayon ay mababa ang cases. Pero, dahil hindi mataas ang ating booster program, particularly ‘yung pangatlong dose o first booster, nararapat lang na hindi tayo magluwag [ng restrictions]. Kapag nagluwag tayo lalo na nagkaroon tayo ng pagdating ng subvariants sa ating bansa, baka tayo ay magkaroon ng surges (We have seen that after the Omicron surge until now, the number of cases is low. But, since our booster program is not high, particularly the third dose or first booster, we should not loosen our restrictions. If we relax, especially amid the arrival of sub variants in the country, we may have surges),” said Leachon in an interview over DZRH.

The expert then added that the national government could loosen and relax the restrictions once the number of Filipinos who have received a booster Covid-19 shot increases. The Department of Health’s (DOH) National Covid-19 Vaccination Dashboard showed that as of May 28, a total of 70,790,342 Filipinos have already completed their primary vaccine dose. Of this, only 14,062,960 have so far been boosted against the disease.

On monkeypox threat

Monkeypox is a zoonotic virus, which transmits disease from animals to humans. Its symptoms include fever, rash, and swollen lymph nodes. Leachon, amid the looming threat of this zoonotic disease, urged the public not to panic.

“Ang unang-una ay dapat hindi tayo mag panic. Ang monkeypox ay not as transmissible as Covid-19… Ang kailangan ay laging maging handa tayo, at ang self awareness at public education ay important as we prepare kung sakaling dumating ito sa ating bansa (First of all, we should not panic. Monkeypox is not as transmissible as Covid-19. We need to be prepared always, self awareness and public education are important as we prepare in case it comes to our country),” said Leachon.

Monkeypox has not been detected in the Philippines or at its borders to date, but DOH, on May 20, said that they are intensifying the screening at the country’s borders to ensure that surveillance systems are actively monitoring the situation.