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NCR joins pilot run of face-to-face classes as DOH now classifies entire PH to be 'minimal risk' for COVID-19

By NICK GARCIA Published Dec 06, 2021 5:08 pm

The Department of Health (DOH) announced on Dec. 6 that the Philippines is now classified as “minimal risk” for COVID-19, but warned against complacency even if the Omicron variant has yet to be detected in the country.

DOH spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire in a media briefing said that from Nov. 22 to Dec. 5, the nationwide average daily attack rate (ADAR), which measures the number of those who get ill after exposure, is now less than one per 100,000 people. This development led the downgrade from the previous "low risk" category, which had a 1.55 ADAR from Nov. 8 to Nov. 21, to "minimal risk."

Thirteen out of 17 regions have ADARs below 1. Only Metro Manila, Cordillera Administrative Region, Cagayan Valley, and Zamboanga Peninsula have ADARs above 1 but below 2.

The number of daily reported COVID-19 infections continue to go down, with the recent average at 544 cases daily versus the 941 from Nov. 22 to Nov. 28.

Even then, Vergeire urged the public to continue observing minimum health standards and to not let one's guard down.

“Improving case trends should not entail complacency since the threat of COVID-19 is still present,” Vergeire said.

Screengrab from the Department of Health's Beat COVID-19 Media Forum

“Sa ngayon, we just err on the side of caution,” Vergeire said. “Alam naman natin na kahit anong variant pa iyan, di ba, the transmission is there.”

She also urged local government units to continue active case finding to immediately detect and isolate cases.

Face-to-face classes

Students attend their first day of limited face-to-face classes at the La Huerta Elementary School in Parañaque City. (KJ Rosales/The Philippine Star)

A student attends his first day of limited face-to-face classes at the La Huerta Elementary School in Parañaque City. (KJ Rosales/The Philippine Star)

Some 174 public schools, including 28 in Metro Manila, meanwhile, joined the second phase of the pilot run of limited face-to-face classes.

In-person classes kicked off on Nov. 15 across 118 participating schools in “low-risk” areas, like Ilocos Region, Central Luzon, and Northern Mindanao.

Department of Education (DepEd) undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan said Metro Manila saw 2,300 students from kindergarten to Grade 3, as well as from senior high school, going back to class after two years.

Malaluan said no COVID-19 cases have been recorded among students and teachers from the participating schools since last month’s kick-off.

“Sana magpatuloy iyan in the coming days,” Malaluan said in a Laging Handa public briefing.

Students attend their first day of limited face-to-face classes at the La Huerta Elementary School in Parañaque City. (KJ Rosales/The Philippine Star)

A teacher at work during first day of limited face-to-face classes at the La Huerta Elementary School in Parañaque City. (KJ Rosales/The Philippine Star)

Malaluan said DepEd’s assessment report will come out by yearend, as it’s looking into expanding limited face-to-face classes in all levels.

“Since so far ay maganda ang tinatakbo, ang ating ina-anticipate ay ang magiging recommendation na pagpapalawak nito sa expanded phase early next year,” he said.

On Sunday, the DOH reported 603 new infections, the 12th straight day of new daily cases south of 1000.

It also reported 156 new deaths, bringing the death toll to 49,386.

The national caseload is at over 2.8 million, 13,853 of which are active.