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What You Need to Know About the New Quarantine Alert Level System

Definition of terms in COVID Year 2.

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Photography: Shutterstock (Manila, October 2020)

A new COVID-19 quarantine system will be piloted in Metro Manila on Sept. 16, which will be rolled out the rest of the country once kinks are ironed out.

It comes with new terminologies and the acronym soup just got bigger, which could be confusing for some.

Before you get lost in jargons here's a guide to help you understand the new alert system, in the second year of the pandemic:

Alert Level System

Gone are the ECQ-MECQ-GCQ-MGCQ terms that guided Filipinos since early 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Replacing it is the new alert level system, with Alert Level 5 being the strictest and Alert Level 1 the loosest. 

The Department of Health (DOH) has the power to determine the alert levels every week for the pilot implementation, according to the latest IATF guidelines.

Alert Level 5 - basically like ECQ, it refers to areas wherein case counts are alarming, with total bed utilization rate and intensive care unit utilization rate at critical utilization.

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Alert Level 4 - like MECQ, it refers to areas wherein case counts are high and/or increasing, with total bed utilization rate and intensive care unit utilization rate at high utilization.

Alert Level 3 - refers to areas wherein case counts are high and/or increasing, with total bed utilization rate and intensive care unit utilization rate at increasing utilization.

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Alert Level 2 - refers to areas wherein case transmission is low and decreasing, healthcare utilization is low, or case counts are low but increasing, or case counts are low and decreasing but total bed utilization rate and intensive care unit utilization rate is increasing.

Alert Level 1 - the loosest among the five, it refers to areas wherein case transmission is low and decreasing, total bed utilization rate, and intensive care unit utilization rate is low.

3Cs

3Cs refer to the government's three considerations when deciding whether an establishment can open or not, and whether in limited or full capacity:

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- Will the activity indoors or in a closed area?
- Will it be crowded?
- Will it involve close contact activities?

Granular Lockdown

Mayors have the power to decide if a house, residential buildings, streets, blocks, purok, subdivision, or villages and barangay within their jurisdiction with COVID-19 cases should be placed under lockdown. This will be implemented without warning to avoid possible COVID-19 carriers from spreading the infection, according to Interior Usec. Jonathan Malaya.

Granular lockdowns will be implemented for at least 14 days. These are the only people allowed to enter and/or exit granular lockdown areas.

Will there be ayuda? It depends on local officials, said Malaya.

'Bakuna bubble'

This one's for the fully vaccinated individuals. The "bakuna bubble" concept was introduced by Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion to ease movement for those vaccinated against COVID-19 while reviving the economy.

First, let's define what fully vaccinated means. A person is considered fully inoculated two weeks after completing the required shots -- two for Sinovac, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna and Sputnik V and one for J&J, the only single-dose vaccine available locally.

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Metro Manila mayors earlier called to relax the rules for fully-inoculated individuals in the region, having the most number of vaccinated individuals, MMDA chair Benhur Abalos said.

Under the new alert level system guidelines, fully-vaccinated individuals will be allowed exclusive access to several services where unvaccinated or partially-vaccinated individuals cannot go.

* * *

This story originally appeared on Reportr.world.

* Minor edits have been made by the Realliving.com.ph editors.

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