Philippines returns to “high risk” classification; DepEd declares suspension of pilot F2F classes in NCR

By Willem James Banaynal III and Julia Marie Mangmang

Due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines, the country has been classified under “high risk,” as announced by the Department of Health (DOH) on Monday, January 3.

This is not the first time the country was put under “high risk,” it also received the same classification last August to October 2021 due to the spike in COVID-19 cases caused by the Delta variant.

The announcement came after Presidential Spokesperson Karlo Nograles proclaimed that the National Capital Region (NCR) will return to Alert Level 3 as a result of the increasing number of cases and the confirmation of the country’s first local case of the Omicron variant.

According to Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, the Philippines recorded a 222% growth rate in the COVID-19 cases from December 6 to 19, 2021 and December 20, 2021 to January 2, 2022.

Along with this, the country was also classified as “high risk” due to its average daily attack rate (ADAR), which is given by the number of new cases in a specific area over a two-week period, divided by the population of the said area.

Going into further detail, the country’s moderate ADAR has been stated to reach 1.07 per 100,000 individuals, exceeding the maximum ADAR of 1 for areas that can be classified to be at a “low risk.”

Vergeire also added that NCR in particular was at a “high risk” for COVID-19  due to the region’s “high one-week growth rate and two-week growth rate,” as well as its “moderate risk average daily attack rate of 5.42 cases per every 100,000 population.”

Furthermore, five other regions— Central Luzon, CALABARZON, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, and the Davao Region— were observed to have a “positive one-week and two-week growth rate,” as mentioned by the DOH Undersecretary.

With regards to the remaining regions in the country, Vergeire explained that these areas only started showing a positive increase in COVID-19 cases in the past week. 

Despite these circumstances, however, Vergeire pointed out that the healthcare utilization rate in all regions of the country is still at a “low risk.”

Following this, the Department of Education (DepEd) declared the suspension of all pilot face-to-face classes in NCR through their social media accounts on January 2. 

According to DepEd, all 28 NCR-based schools that have started limited in-person classes will be postponed until the region goes back to Alert Level 2. 

Meanwhile, in a memo released by Ateneo de Manila University President Roberto C. Yap SJ effective January 1, he detailed the school’s plans to resume face-to-face classes in accordance with the government’s safety guidelines, enumerating the permitted in-school activities given a certain alert level.

Face-to-face classes of tertiary level students will be allowed at Alert Levels 1, 2, and 3, while face-to-face classes of students in basic education will be allowed at Alert Levels 1 and 2. 

Separate memos containing the timetable and details of the return of on-site classes for the Ateneo grade school (GS), junior high school (JHS), and senior high school (SHS) departments will be released by the respective heads. 

References

Ateneo de Manila University. (2021, December 18). Health Protocols and Guidelines for Campus Access, the Use of University Facilities, and Holding of Events on Campus. [Memorandum]. Retrieved from http://ateneo.edu/sites/default/files/attached-files/U2122-047%20Health%20Protocols%20and%20Guidelines.pdf

Cabico, G. (2022, January 3). Philippines now ‘high risk’ for COVID-19 — DOH. The Philippine Star. Retrieved from https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2022/01/03/2151578/philippines-now-high-risk-covid-19-doh

Galvez, D. (2021, December 31). NCR under Alert Level 3 from Jan. 3 to Jan. 15 — Palace. Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved from https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1534501/ncr-under-alert-level-3-from-jan-3-to-jan-15-palace

Magsambol, B. (2022, January 3). Philippines again ‘high risk’ for COVID-19 – DOH. Rappler. Retrieved from https://www.rappler.com/nation/doh-report-philippines-covid-19-risk-status-january-3-2022/

Mercado, N. (2022, January 3). PH back at ‘high risk’ for COVID-19. Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved from https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1535372/fwd-break-ph-back-at-high-risk-classification-for-covid-19