OCTA notes slight uptrend of COVID-19 cases in NCR, spike in 3 cities
MANILA, Philippines — An independent research group reported “a slight upward trend” in COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila, one of the country’s coronavirus hot spots, even as the government prepares to lower the quarantine level in the country to the least restrictive modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).
In a report released on Saturday, the OCTA Research Team said “the overall trend in the Philippines and the NCR (National Capital Region) is flat, [that is], no significant upward or downward movement….”
However, the group said there was “a slight upward trend in new COVID-19 cases … [that] is visible in the reported number of new cases by DOH (Department of Health).”
“Over the past seven days (Feb. 13 to Feb. 19), the NCR had an average of 430 new COVID-19 cases per day, up 16 percent from the previous week average of 370 new cases per day,” OCTA said in its report.
“A closer examination showed that some LGUs (local government units) had a spike in new COVID-19 cases. This increase may be due to the Chinese New Year or Valentine’s Day effects,” it added.
The report also noted that “Pasay City nearly doubled its daily report of new cases compared to the previous week, with an average of 44 new COVID-19 cases per day.”
“Its two-week daily attack rate increased to 7.58 per 100,000, which now puts Pasay in the high risk category per DOH guidelines,” the report pointed out.
In a statement on Saturday, the Pasay City government said it had placed 33 villages under lockdown for two weeks starting Friday.
OCTA noted this development in its report.
The city government also said it had placed one business under lockdown but did not name the establishment. Inspection officers are due to visit other establishments in the city.
The report also cited an increase in cases in other cities in the metropolis.
“Malabon and Navotas also had a spike in new COVID-19 cases, while Manila and Marikina had a slight increase,” the research group said.
OCTA said it could not rule out the possibility that a “SARS-Cov-2 variant is involved in the sudden spikes.”
Convening as the Metro Manila Council on Wednesday, mayors of the 17 local governments making up the NCR voted to place the metropolis under MGCQ beginning March.
A day before the vote, OCTA issued a warning against such a move, saying Metro Manila cases could climb to 2,400 a day if restrictions were further relaxed.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that after a year of strict lockdown, there was a need to consider the economy which was brought to a standstill by the lockdown early in 2020 and the succeeding quarantine restrictions.
“There are also health consequences for a poor economy, which is why we are balancing that,” Vergeire said at the Laging Handa briefing on Saturday.
“In case we will be at a point where we will shift into this lower level of community quarantine measures, the safeguard is for local governments to have their own response where they will be able to have better surveillance,” she said.
Easing restrictions need not necessarily result in a worsening of the COVID-19 situation, Vergeire said.
The local governments, she said, must have gatekeeping indicators so that they could manage and control the number of cases in their areas.
Whatever the quarantine classification, local governments must have the capability for a localized response and must act fast to address an increase in cases, Vergeire said.
“We are asking local governments to step up so that we can be sure that, even if we relax restrictions in other sectors, we will still be able to keep cases down,” she said.
Should the number of cases and the health-care utilization rate rise, health officials would ask the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to recommend a higher level of community quarantine classification, said the health undersecretary.
“We just really need to monitor [the situation] properly,” Vergeire said.
Deaths at 12K
Latest DOH data showed COVID-19 deaths in the country had breached the 12,000th mark.
With 239 new fatalities reported on Saturday, the death toll reached 12,068. The DOH said 167 of the new deaths were previously tagged as recoveries and were reclassified after final validation.
An additional 2,240 infections were recorded, bringing the total case count to 559,288.
Saturday’s tally is the second time in seven days that new cases breached 2,000 in a single day.
Another 504 patients have recovered, bringing the total number of recoveries to 513,120.
There were 34,100 active cases, of which the majority, or 86.7 percent are mild, 8.2 percent are asymptomatic, 2.3 percent are critical, 2.2 percent are severe and 0.68 percent are moderate.
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