AN INTER-AGENCY task force wants to ease the lockdown in Manila, the capital and nearby cities to Alert Level 3 starting Oct. 16 amid decreasing coronavirus infections, according to the presidential palace.

The task force had also agreed to put Apayao, Kalinga, Batanes, Bulacan, Bataan, Cavite, Rizal, Laguna, Naga City, Zamboanga City and Zamboanga del Norte under a modified enhanced community quarantine, presidential spokesman Herminio L. Roque, Jr. said in a statement on Wednesday.

The National Capital Region is now under Alert Level 4.

Abra, Baguio City, Ilocos Sur, Pangasinan, Cagayan, Isabela, City of Santiago, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Quezon, Batangas, Ilocos Norte, Dagupan City, Ifugao, Benguet, Tarlac, Lucena City, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Puerto Princesa, Marinduque, Albay, and Camariñes Norte will be under a general community quarantine.

Bacolod City, Capiz, Lapu-Lapu City, Negros Oriental, and Bohol, Aklan, Antique, Guimaras, Negros Occidental, Iloilo City, Iloilo Province, Cebu City, Cebu Province, Mandaue City, Siquijor and Tacloban City will also be under a general quarantine, Mr. Roque said.

Zamboanga del Sur, Misamis Oriental, Cagayan de Oro City, Davao del Norte, Davao Occidental, Davao de Oro, Butuan City, and Surigao del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Misamis Occidental, Iligan City, Davao City, Davao Oriental, Davao del Sur, General Santos City, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Dinagat Islands, Cotabato City and Lanao del Sur will likewise be under a general lockdown.

All other areas will be under a modified general community quarantine, Mr. Roque said.

Meanwhile, Delta-fueled coronavirus infections in the capital region continue to fall, the OCTA Research Group from the University of the Philippines said.

“The Delta variant wave of infections in Quezon City and the National Capital Region continued to decline,” it said in a report. Metro Manila was now under a moderate-risk classification for the coronavirus, OCTA said.

The Department of Health (DoH) reported 7,181 coronavirus infections on Wednesday, bringing the total to 2.69 million.

The death toll rose to 40,069 after 173 more patients died, while recoveries increased by 6,889 to 2.57 million, it said in a bulletin.

There were 82,411 active cases, 75.3% of which were mild, 12.1% did not show symptoms, 3.7% were severe, 7.25% were moderate and 1.6% were critical.

The agency said 98 duplicates had been removed from the tally, 61 of which were reclassified as recoveries, while 101 recoveries were reclassified as deaths. Two laboratories failed to submit data on Oct. 11.

The coronavirus reproduction number in Quezon City, the country’s most populous city, fell to 0.64 from 0.84 a week earlier, OCTA said.

“Projections based on trends indicate that daily new cases in Quezon City could decrease to 200 by the end of October,” it added.

The seven-day average for cases in Quezon City fell by 36% to 506 from 793, OCTA said, adding that its positivity rate decreased to 12% from 17%.

Healthcare use in Quezon City continued to fall to 67%, though 70% of intensive care units were occupied, OCTA said.

Jose Ma. “Joey” Concepcion III, presidential adviser for entrepreneurship, on Tuesday asked the government to increase business capacities in Metro Manila as coronavirus infections continued to drop.

He said companies should be allowed to increase their operational capacity to at least 50% from 30% to recover.

This would let them pay for debt and “hopefully carry them forward until 2022,” he told a televised news briefing.

The Philippines, which scored poorly in a global index that measured the recovery of more than 100 countries from the coronavirus pandemic, is boosting its vaccination drive to reach its target of inoculating at least 50% of its adult population by year-end.

Philippine President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Monday night took responsibility for the shortage of coronavirus vaccines in the country early this year.

A September poll by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed that nine of 10 Filipinos feared that their family members might catch the coronavirus.

The ratio of Filipinos worried about getting infected increased to 91% from 87% in June, SWS said in a statement.

“The latest percentage of those worried about catching COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) is 4 points above the 87% in June 2021 and ties the record-high level reached in Nov. 2020,” it added. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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