OCTA: Virus surge has started in Metro, but can still be curbed | Inquirer News

OCTA: Virus surge has started in Metro, but can still be curbed

, / 04:56 AM December 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — A surge in the number of COVID-19 cases has been detected in its “early stages” in Metro Manila and it is a “serious cause for concern” that could still be mitigated, according to an academic research group that has been monitoring the pandemic.

In its latest report made public on Tuesday, the Octa Research Team said the “period of the declining trend in cases observed in the National Capital Region (NCR) in the past few months has now ended.”

“The trend has been reversed with significant positive growth in new cases observed in the region,” the multidisciplinary group said.


“It is in this light that we believe, based on our analysis of the data and of the past trends in the NCR, that a surge in its early stages has already started in the region. This is a serious cause for concern,” it said.


The group reported that the reproduction number R0 (R-naught) of the new coronavirus infection in Metro Manila increased to 1.15 in the Dec. 14-20 period from 1.06 in the previous week.

Still pandemic epicenter

“The NCR remains to be the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country with most number of cases,” it said.

On Tuesday, the Department of Health (DOH) reported 1,314 additional cases, raising the national tally to 462,815.

Quezon City recorded the most number of new infections, 93, followed by Rizal (89), Benguet (78), Bulacan (61), and Davao City (60).

The DOH said 247 more patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of survivors to 429,419.

The death toll breached the 9,000-mark to 9,021 after 66 patients succumbed to the severe respiratory disease.


‘Still manageable’

The recoveries and deaths left the country with 24,375 active cases, of which 82.6 percent were mild, 8.5 percent asymptomatic, 0.31 percent moderate, 2.9 percent severe and 5.7 percent critical.

Octa Research said the surge was still in the “nascent” stage and could still be mitigated or reversed.

“While the situation in the NCR is still manageable, we exhort the government, civil society and the private sector to start working together to implement appropriate and timely responses to reverse this trend quickly and to prevent this ensuing surge from becoming full-blown and potentially overwhelming the health-care system in the NCR,” it said.

The group said places identified as areas of concern should intensify their efforts at testing, tracing, and isolation.

Aside from NCR, the provinces of concern identified in the report included Rizal, Bulacan, Isabela, Leyte, Pangasinan, Negros Oriental, and South Cotabato.

Octa Research said nine of the 17 local governments comprising Metro Manila showed an increase in new cases during the two-week monitoring period. These are Quezon City, Makati, San Juan, Marikina, Malabon, Taguig, Navotas, Valenzuela, and Caloocan.

‘Areas of concern’

Makati and Quezon City were considered among Metro Manila’s “areas of concern” in the government’s efforts to curb the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, it said.

“More aggressive and effective localized lockdowns with stricter border controls are urgently needed to suppress further viral transmissions” for local governments identified as high-risk, it added.

“Together with more effective screening and other controls in our ports and airports, this will be crucial to supporting the government’s plans to expand domestic as well as international travel in the Philippines,” Octa Research said.

Aside from Metro Manila, the group flagged the cities of Santiago and Ilagan in Isabela province, Baguio City and La Trinidad in Benguet province, Cainta (Rizal), Batangas City (Batangas), and the cities of Ormoc and Tacloban (Leyte).

The report did not cite any city of concern in Mindanao, though it mentioned a higher attack rate in South Cotabato.

Holiday activities

Octa Research urged the national and local governments to ensure that minimum health standards were being followed and to issue clearer guidelines to the public on activities for the holidays to help ensure fewer viral transmission.

It reminded the public to observe the general community quarantine guideline that limits gatherings to 10 people and it discouraged office parties and other social events. Family gatherings should be limited to immediate members, it added.

“If larger gatherings have to happen, they should be celebrated outside (in open-air/well-ventilated venues) to mitigate transmissions,” it said.

The group said people should avoid crowded and enclosed places, and refrain from joining or organizing Christmas gatherings.

“There is evidence from Europe and North America that increased social mixing among households are driving the second wave of COVID-19 in these parts of the world,” it said.

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“While we must and we will celebrate Christmas, we should do so safely and responsibly, not just to ensure our own safety and well-being, but that of our families and our community,” it added. —WITH A REPORT FROM JOVIC YEE INQ

For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
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TAGS: Christmas, Coronavirus, COVID-19, epicenter, Health, Metro Manila, NCR, OCTA, pandemic, SARS-CoV-2, Virus

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