October 15 ------ An official of the World Health Organization (WHO) urged the public to still exercise caution even if Metro Manila was downgraded to Alert Level 3 amid the decreasing number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases. WHO Country Representative Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe said that he supports the adjustment in the alert level status in Metro Manila but “we need to be very careful.”
“We need to continue to urge the LGUs to ensure that access to testing is maintained and we need to urge the population to do everything they can—- to quarantine or isolate themselves if they are having symptoms, so they don’t put other people at risk,” he said during the Malacañang press briefing on Thursday, Oct. 14. “It has to be a whole-of-society approach that everybody contributes so that we can come out of this and without going back to another surge,” he added.
Abeyasinghe stressed the importance of imposing granular lockdowns in a specific area if necessary. “While recalibrations are important, we have to be very careful to monitor this and we need to be flexible enough to tighten restrictions in very granular areas if we see localized transmission happening within cities or barangays,” he said “We now have less than 2,000 cases on the average on the daily basis in NCR (National Capital Region), we want to see that going down further, and so we need to be very careful in calibrating and adjusting the restrictions,” he added.
The government should also be clear in its messaging to the public to avoid complacency, said Abeyasinghe. “It is important to understand that we are trying to manage and bring back as much economic activity as possible while not putting people’s lives at risk. These adjusting and calibrating are important and we need to be very clear in our communications,” he said.
“It is not about relaxing or reducing restrictions, it is about calibrating so that we continue to take risk-based measures, we continue to urge the population to do everything–the physical distancing, hand hygiene, mask wearing—even though they are fully vaccinated— because it is critically important to maintain gains and further strengthen the transmission reduction,” he added. Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said that Metro Manila will be under Alert Level 3 starting Oct. 16 until the end of the month as per the decision of the government’s pandemic task force.