Malacañang said that the government was left with no choice but to escalate the National Capital Region (NCR) back to alert level 3 due to the ongoing surge of cases from the holiday season.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles (PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles made the statement as Metro Manila entered its first day back in alert level 3 on Monday, Jan. 3, and will stay there until Jan. 15.

In an interview with ANC’s “Headstart” on Monday morning, Nograles said that the spike in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases late last month left the government’s pandemic task force with no choice.

“Tumama talaga sa mga parameters for alert level 3. No choice talaga tayo (We really hit the parameters for alert level 3. We had no choice),” he said.

“If you look at the numbers, right now nakikita natin yung positivity rate tumataas and positivity rate translates to more cases. Dumami ang kaso natin. Umakyat nang umakyat (we are seeing an increase in the positivity rate and that translates to more cases. We had more cases and it continued to increase),” he added.

The Palace official reiterated that the government will not hesitate to raise an area’s alert level classification if necessary.

“We said we will not hesitate to increase the alert level kung kinakailangan (if necessary) and that’s exactly what happened for Metro Manila. So we immediately increased alert level,” Nograles said, noting that NCR was supposed to stay under alert level 2 until Jan. 15.

As of Jan. 2, the country logged a positivity rate of 19.6 percent and registered 4,600 new COVID-19 cases. There were also 21,418 active cases as of Sunday evening.

Nograles, citing a report from the Department of Health (DOH), said the onset of the symptoms came about Dec. 20, which would mean that the individuals who tested positive were exposed to the virus in mid-December.

“If you go by the characteristics of the virus, exposure might have happened [around] five to seven days before,” he said.

The acting Palace spokesman meanwhile urged the public to immediately isolate themselves and get tested if they experience COVID-19 symptoms, as he recognized the possibility that many others are unaware that they have the virus.

“When you feel something is not right, ‘wag ka nang lumabas. Isolate ka na (Don’t go out anymore, isolate yourself). Treat it as if you have it,” Nograles said.

“‘Wag ka na muna mag-report sa work, mag-isolate ka muna, and then magpa-test na kaagad (Don’t report for work for the time being. Go on isolation and have yourself tested),” he added.

“Let us try to protect everybody, in our families, in our community, in our workplaces,” he continued.

On Friday, Malacañang said that one of the reasons for Metro Manila’s shift to alert level 3 was the high possibility of the local transmission of the Omicron variant.

Source: Manila Bulletin (