The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) says current estimates suggest the Philippines’ National Capital Region (NCR), comprising Metro Manila and surrounding areas, will reach a vaccination rate of 84% among the eligible population by November and 92% by the start of December.
According to MMDA chairman Benjamin Abalos Jr, the projections are based on recent improvements in the vaccination rate thanks to increased vaccine supplies, with the 92% target tipped to arrive on 2 December 2021.
He also pointed to a recent decline in active cases in the NCR, from a high of 40,000 to around 25,000 at present. Total cases numbers nationwide have fallen below 20,000 every day for the past week, having reached a pandemic high of 26,303 on 11 September, although authorities have also noted a decline in testing which is likely contributing to lower official case numbers.
Nevertheless, Philippine News Agency reported Monday that the COVID-19 reproduction rate in Metro Manila had fallen below 1 – from a high of 1.9 in August to just 0.83 – meaning case numbers are currently on the decline.
Average daily case numbers in Manila have also declined from 4,320 in the week from 20 to 26 September to 3,121 from 27 September to 3 October.
The encouraging news around vaccinations and virus spread in the NCR comes after the Department of Health said last Friday that a pilot program for a new COVID-19 Alert Level system would be extended by two weeks until 15 October.
The system provides five Alert Levels – Level 1 being the mildest and Level 5 the most strict – complemented by a granular lockdown system whereby individual villages, streets or even houses can be sealed off if deemed high risk by their local government unit.
By limiting full lockdowns to specific areas of concern rather than the city, it is hoped a better balance can be achieved between reducing the spread of COVID-19 and keeping businesses open.
Manila is currently under the second strictest Alert Level 4, meaning casinos, horse racing and cockfighting, plus indoor tourist attractions, MICE venues, bars, cinemas, amusement parks, social gatherings, internet cafes and many more businesses are prohibited from opening.