MANILA, Philippines — The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) on Monday issued the guidelines on the pilot implementation of alert levels system for COVID-19 response in the National Capital Region.
This, after the IATF issued Resolution No. 136-A (s.2021) on September 3 that provided for, among others, the shift in the policy of classifying provinces, highly urbanized cities (HUCs), and independent component cities (ICCs) for purposes of community quarantine.
The resolution says that in the new classification framework, which focuses on the imposition of granular lockdown measures, community quarantine shall be reduced to either enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) or general community quarantine (GCQ) with the latter having an alert-level system with each alert level limiting restrictions only to identified high-risk activities.
For this, the IATF has issued the guidelines to enjoin and proactively advocate the principles of 3C’s (Closed, Crowded, and Close Contact) strategy against COVID-19 to curb the further spread of infection which shall be applied in the NCR beginning September 16.
The IATF said the alert level system to be applied in the new policy is as follows:
- Alert Level 1 – refers to areas wherein case transmission is low and decreasing, total bed utilization rate, and intensive care unit utilization rate is low.
- Alert Level 2 – refers to areas wherein case transmission is low and decreasing, healthcare utilization is low, or case counts are low but increasing, or case counts are low and decreasing but total bed utilization rate and intensive care unit utilization rate is increasing.
- Alert Level 3 – refers to areas wherein case counts are high and/or increasing, with total bed utilization rate and intensive care unit utilization rate at increasing utilization.
- Alert Level 4 – refers to areas wherein case counts are high and/or increasing, with total bed utilization rate and intensive care unit utilization rate at high utilization.
- Alert Level 5 – refers to areas wherein case counts are alarming, with total bed utilization rate and intensive care unit utilization rate at critical utilization.
For specific set of guidelines for each level, click here.
As for granular lockdowns, the guidelines said that the authority to impose granular lockdown shall be given to the city and municipal mayors with respect to their component barangays subject to the concurrence of the Regional Inter-Agency Task Force (RIATF).
The guidelines also said that epidemiological parameters in the declaration of a granular lockdown “shall comply with the National Task Force COVID-19 Memorandum Circular No. 2 dated 15 June 2020 or the Operational Guidelines on the Application of the Zoning Containment Strategy in the Localization of the National Action Plan Against COVID-19 Response.”
Granular lockdowns shall be for a period of not less than fourteen (14) days, the guidelines read.
The following shall be allowed to enter and/or exit granular lockdown areas for specific purposes:
- Overseas Filipino Workers bound for international travel, and those returning to their respective residences after having completed facility-based quarantine upon arrival;
- Individuals whose home or residence are located within an area under granular lockdown may enter the said area for the sole purpose of returning to their respective homes or residences but must thereafter remain therein for the duration of the granular lockdown;
- Individuals under exceptional circumstances such as, but not limited to, those seeking urgent medical attention as validated by the municipal/city health officer; and
- Food and essential items that are intended for delivery within an area under granular lockdown provided that they can only be unloaded at border collection points designated by the LGU.
In a press statement, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said this policy shift aims to maintain balance in the government’s efforts to address the COVID-19 crisis and the stability of the country’s economy.
“We should strive for total health and this can only be realized by carefully balancing our COVID-19 response by considering both the health of our people and the economic health of the nation, which this policy shift is all about,” Roque said.