PHOTO CAPTION: Aklan will gradually reopen its local economy as soon as the national COVID-19 task force downgrades the province quarantine classification to a less strict status./iNEWS
KALIBO, Aklan–Beginning tomorrow, September 8, Aklan will take a less restrictive approach to the pandemic with many restrictions set to be relaxed as its quarantine status shifts from modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) to general community quarantine (GCQ).
Due to the declining trend in daily cases and hospitalizations, the government decided to lower the quarantine classification despite the presence of Delta, Theta, Beta, and Alpha variants in the province.
The weekly positivity rate in Aklan is now at 32 percent while the case counts for coronavirus averaged 41 in the most recent week and health care occupancy was at 30 percent.
Almost 18 percent of 40 intensive care unit COVID beds are in use; COVID ward beds are 35 percent occupied.
The growth rate on cases also declined from a high of 2,372 from July 25 to August 7 to 1,880 cases from August 8 to September 4.
Kalibo, Tangalan, Altavas, Batan, Banga, Numancia, and Malay are considered moderate risk areas while the remaining 10 towns in Aklan are classified as low-risk.
Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores is preparing to ease restrictions as the government moves to re-open the economy even as it considers public health and safety a top priority.
Following an encouraging decline in daily infections, dine-in and al fresco services of restaurants and food establishments, and hair salons and barbershops are allowed to open up to 30 percent of their capacity.
However, curfew hours from 8 pm to 4 am in mainland Aklan will remain in effect.
Children below 18 years old and those who are over 65 years old, those with immunodeficiency or comorbidity, and pregnant women will be allowed to go out but only for essential needs.
Business establishments can remain open on all days until 7 pm. Public transport, meanwhile, can operate until 8 pm.
The liquor ban is lifted but ‘super spreader’ events or mass gatherings are still prohibited.
Quarantine passes are also no longer required when outside of the residence.
Miraflores, however, was quick to remind his constituents now is not the time to become complacent, and that there should be no let-up in adhering to minimum health guidelines.
“Huwag tayo maging kampante kahit bumaba ang mga kaso ng COVID-19. Nagpapasalamat tayo sa lahat dahil sa inyong kooperasyon sa pagsunod sa mga protocols [Let’s not be confident even when the COVID-19 cases have decreased. We are thankful to everyone for your cooperation in following the protocols],” he added.
The governor said protocols such as social distancing, the mandatory wearing of face masks, and frequent washing of hands will continue to be monitored to prevent another surge.
ALERT LEVEL DOWNGRADED
The Department of Health (DOH) lowered the COVID-19 alert level of the province of Aklan from 3 to 2 after seeing consistently declining numbers.
The average daily attack rate per 100,000 population also improved from 14.84 percent (July 6 to August 19) to 6.64 percent (August 20 to September 2).
Just 563 people tested positive for the coronavirus in two weeks ending September 2 compared to 1,258 cases in the previous two weeks ending August 19.
There was also clustering of cases in Kalibo, Banga, Malay, Numancia, Tangalan, Batan, Altavas, Ibajay, Malinao, and Balete as of Morbidity Week 34-35.
On August 13, DOH raised the alert level to 4—the highest level quarantine classification—with a warning the health system was at the risk of being ‘overwhelmed’.
Despite 60,000 individuals in Aklan being fully vaccinated against COVID-19— with 81 percent of target health care workers and 37 percent of senior citizens having already received their second doses—DOH Medical Officer III Dr. Daphynie Teorima urged residents to continue to be vigilant and comply with all health guidance to fight the pandemic.
As of September 5, the region has 13,539 active cases and 2,537 deaths. Western Visayas has a case fatality rate (CFR) of 2.35 percent, which is higher than the 1.69 National CFR.
Capiz and Antique provinces are also classified under Alert Level 2; Negros Occidental and Bacolod City under Alert Level 3, and Iloilo City, and Guimaras and Iloilo provinces under Alert Level 4. (Boy Ryan Zabal/iNEWS-Aklan/Boracay Bureau)