A STATE economic adviser on Tuesday asked the government to increase business capacities in Manila, the capital and nearby cities, as coronavirus infections continued to drop.

Jose Ma. “Joey” Concepcion III, presidential adviser for entrepreneurship, said companies should be allowed to increase their operational capacity to at least 50% from 30% to recover.

This would let them pay for debt and “hopefully carry them forward until 2022,” he told a televised news briefing.

Metro Manila was placed under Alert Level 4 until Oct. 15, the second-highest alert level equivalent to a modified enhanced community quarantine.

The Department of Health (DoH) reported 8,615 coronavirus infections on Tuesday, bringing the total to 2.68 million.

The death toll rose to 39,896 after 236 more patients died, while recoveries increased by 25,146 to 2.56 million, it said in a bulletin.

There were 82,228 active cases, 73.2% of which were mild, 14.2% did not show symptoms, 3.8% were severe, 7.28% were moderate and 1.6% were critical.

The agency said 57 duplicates had been removed from the tally, 38 of which were reclassified as recoveries, while 120 recoveries were reclassified as deaths. Three laboratories failed to submit data on Oct. 10.

Also on Tuesday, Metro Manila mayors agreed to enforce unified curfew hours from midnight to 4 a.m. The curfew hours would be enforced starting Wednesday, the Metro Manila Development Authority said in a resolution signed by the mayors.

Last week, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire said there had been fewer swab tests for the coronavirus in 14 regions including Metro Manila.

The biggest decline in RT-PCR tests was in the capital region, whose positivity rate decreased to 16.4% in the past week from 19.3% a week earlier, she said.

Swab tests in the metro fell by 37,383 or 14.1% to 266,042 leading to fewer people who tested positive for the virus.

The Philippines, which scored poorly in a global index that measured the recovery of more than 100 countries from the coronavirus pandemic, is boosting its vaccination drive to reach its target of inoculating at least 50% of its adult population by year-end.

Philippine President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Monday night took responsibility for the shortage of coronavirus vaccines in the country early this year.

“I am to blame because even if I wanted to buy vaccines there was nothing to buy,” he said in Filipino at a televised Cabinet meeting.

Mr. Duterte last month railed against rich countries for hoarding vaccines while poor countries struggled to secure shots for their people.

He described vaccine hoarding as a shockingly “selfish act” that should be condemned.

Earlier this year, Mr. Duterte accused the European Union of holding up vaccine supplies from other countries, citing the economic bloc’s export rule that requires drugmakers to obtain permission first before shipping out coronavirus vaccines.

Meanwhile, Mr. Duterte said Filipinos who refuse to get vaccinated against the coronavirus should get the shots while sleeping.

“Look for them in your villages,” he said. “Let’s go to their homes while they’re asleep and inject them to finish the story.”

Mr. Duterte, who has been criticized for his senseless speeches late at night, said he would personally lead the campaign.

The tough-talking leader has repeatedly threatened to order the arrest of Filipinos who refuse to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza