Daily coronavirus infections in the Philippines could fall to fewer than 1,000 by the end of the month, according to researchers from the country’s premier university.

The granular lockdowns in the capital region had helped reverse a surge of the more contagious Delta coronavirus variant, OCTA Research Group fellow Fredegusto P. David told CNN Philippines on Friday.

“We previously made a projection that we would be at possibly less than 2,000 cases per day in the whole country by the end of November, but it’s just the first week of November and we are already seeing 1,500 to 1,700 cases,” he added.

Mr. David said he agrees with easing restrictions in Metro Manila to Alert Level 2 starting Nov. 5 before the holiday. “Having the Alert Level 2 now is timely because it’s almost halfway through the fourth quarter and this is the time for businesses to recover from losses during the year,” he added.

Presidential spokesman Herminio L. Roque, Jr. on Thursday said the capital region would be under Alert Level 2 until Nov. 21.

Under the lockdown level, businesses may operate indoors at 50% capacity. They will get an additional 10% capacity if they have a so-called safety seal from the government. For outdoor operations, they may operate at 70% capacity.

It will also allow minors to leave their homes. Local government units can impose “reasonable restrictions” on their movements as long as they are not stricter than higher alert levels.

Meanwhile, Mr. David tweeted that average cases in Metro Manila had fallen to 493, the lowest since Feb. 18.

The Department of Health (DOH) reported 2,376 coronavirus infections on Friday, bringing the total to 2.8 million.

The death toll rose to 44,085 after 260 more patients died, while recoveries increased by 2,109 to 2.7 million, it said in a bulletin.

There were 37,377 active cases, 69% of which were mild, 5.4% did not show symptoms, 8.2% were severe, 13.94% were moderate and 3.5% were critical.

The agency said 32 duplicates had been removed from the tally, 24 of which were reclassified as recoveries, while 219 recoveries were relisted as deaths. Four laboratories failed to submit data on Nov. 3.

Meanwhile, the alert level system first tested in Metro Manila would be expanded nationwide by Dec. 1, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire told an online news briefing. The state started granular lockdowns in the capital region in mid-September to spur business activity.

Under the second alert level, conferences, entertainment venues, personal care establishments and fitness studios may operate at 50% indoor capacity and 70% outdoors as long as their workers have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. — Russell Louis C. Ku and Alyssa Nicole O. Tan