TWENTY-EIGHT more areas in the country, including the cities of Cebu and Mandaue in Central Visayas, will be under Alert Level 3 from Jan. 14 to 31, 2022, said Malacañang Wednesday night, Jan. 12.

Cabinet Secretary and presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles said the new classification was made due to the increase in the number of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases in these areas.

Under Alert Level 3 are Benguet, Kalinga, Abra, La Union, Ilocos Norte, Pangasinan, Nueva Vizcaya, Isabela, Quirino, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Quezon Province, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Camarines Sur, Albay, Bacolod City, Aklan, Capiz, Antique, Cebu City, Mandaue City, Tacloban City, Cagayan de Oro City, Davao City, Butuan City, Agusan del Sur and Cotabato City.

All other provinces and cities not mentioned will remain under Alert Level 2, said Nograles.

Nograles said earlier that the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases would not hesitate to escalate the alert level in areas where there is an increase in Covid-19 cases.

He said they look at the two-week growth rate, average daily attack rate and hospitalization rate in specific areas before deciding on the alert level classification.

Aside from the 28 new areas, Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal and Laguna, among others, have also been placed under Alert Level 3 until Jan. 15.

Cebu City

Reacting to the development, Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera, EOC deputy chief implementer, said: “I don’t know their basis. Aside from the increasing numbers of cases, we have other areas that they need to consider, (like) our hospital occupancy, mortalities (none), our degree of response and intervention in spite of the fact that we just survived the strongest typhoon ever to hit our city in many decades.”

“But personally, I am not inclined to appeal because it’s just an exercise in futility and we might as well focus our attention on rebuilding our city from the typhoon,” he told SunStar Cebu Wednesday night.

“Lastly, tagaan lang ta me ug husay ug unsa ang ilang parameters ngano gibutang ta sa (they should give us the reasons and parameters for placing us under) Level 3. Stay Safe. Kaya nato ni (We can overcome this)!” Garganera said.

On Jan. 11, Cebu City had 723 active Covid-19 cases. On Jan. 12, the city reported 223 new cases.

Lapu-Lapu City

Lapu-Lapu City in Cebu was among those whose alert level was escalated to Level 3 from Level 2 from Jan. 9 to 15.

However, the city is still following the guidelines under Alert Level 2 while the IATF has not yet released a response to Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan’s appeal to remove the city from the Alert Level 3 classification.

The City’s Public Information Office head Mark Anthony Bautista said Wednesday, Jan. 12, that the city will most likely remain on status quo until the IATF comes up with its final decision.

Chan insisted that the city should not be placed under Alert Level 3 since there was an error in the report sent to the IATF.

Chan previously said the encoder had made an incorrect report regarding the number of occupied beds in the hospitals of the city.

The city had 97 active Covid-19 cases on Jan. 10.

As of Jan. 11, some 94.06 percent or 347,458 individuals of the city’s eligible population have already received at least the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine while 71.12 percent or 262,741 individuals were fully vaccinated.

As for Mandaue City, the Department of Health Central Visayas reported that on Jan. 11, it had 143 active Covid-19 cases.

Prohibited

Prohibited activities under Alert Level 3 are contact sports, face-to-face classes, funfairs and casinos, while cinemas are allowed to operate at 30 percent indoor capacity and 50 percent outdoor capacity.

Also allowed to operate under 30 percent indoor capacity for fully vaccinated individuals are amusement parks, recreational venues, religious gatherings, licensure exams, dine-in services, personal care services, fitness studios, non-contact sports, film, music and TV production.

On Wednesday, the Department of Health reported 32,246 additional Covid-19 cases that brought the country’s total caseload to 3,058,634. (SunStar Philippines PAC, IRT)