Gov’t mulls shifting to COVID-19 ‘Alert Level 0’ as cases drop

Authorities and experts are considering to further ease lockdown restrictions to “Alert Level 0”, thereby removing most if not all guidelines, as the country’s pandemic situation has been said to be improving.

The government is studying the possibility of de-escalation to a so-called Alert Level 0 pandemic status amid decreasing COVID-19 infections, Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III said last March 11.

“We have had cases below 1,000 for six days, but hopefully we could bring it down to 500 or even less on a daily basis so that we could…who knows…maybe we could deescalate to alert level 0,” Duque said in a press conference. 

Under the current alert level system, Cavite, Metro Manila, and several other areas have been placed under Alert Level 1 — the most lenient among the five alert levels. Alert Level 1, which will last until the end of March, allows businesses and public transportation to be fully operational. 

READ: Cavite, 38 other areas to shift under Alert Level 1 on March 1

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Duque added the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) would still have to look into several factors that need to be taken into consideration to impose such transition. 

In a separate briefing, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez and Interior Undersecretary Epimaco Densing both said the government may consider implementing Alert Level 0 once COVID-19 is declared an endemic like the seasonal flu. 

Under the proposed Alert Level 0, presentation of vaccination cards may no longer be required in entering establishments and local government units (LGUs) would have greater responsibility. 

However, several infectious disease experts have varying opinions whether the country is ready for an Alert Level 0.

“At this point, based on the metrics na nakikita natin ngayon especially sa pagbaba ng mga kaso at saka iyong healthcare utilization rate natin, ito iyong dalawang tinitingnan namin na if ever we will be downgrading to Alert Level Zero, mukhang ready na tayo,” Dr. Rontgene Solante said during a virtual presser.

But another expert Dr. Cecilia Maramba Lazarte has disagreed, saying ““Well, not right now, not yet tomorrow, maybe not yet in the next few weeks.”

Thumbnail photo courtesy of iStock

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