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BUT OCTA WARNS OF SURGE IN CASES IF NEW VARIANT ENTERS PH

All regions under minimal risk of COVID-19 transmission – DOH

By: - Reporter / @santostinaINQ
/ 05:31 AM December 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday said all regions in the country are now classified under minimal risk of COVID-19 transmission — even amid a warning by the independent OCTA Research group of a surge in cases with the entry of the Omicron variant.

Except for the Soccsksargen (South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, and General Santos) and Bicol regions, which recorded their latest growth rates at positive 7 percent and 3 percent, respectively, most regions have recorded a negative two-week growth rate and an average daily attack rate (Adar) of less than 1 per 100,000.

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Health authorities measure COVID-19 risk by determining the Adar, or the number of individuals found infected with the coronavirus for every 100,000 people.

The National Capital Region recorded a two-week growth rate of negative 61 percent and an Adar of 0.67.

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Nationwide, the country recorded a two-week growth rate of negative 59 percent and an Adar of 0.41.

“The health systems capacity is at low risk in all areas,” Dr. Alethea De Guzman, director of the Epidemiology Bureau of the DOH, said in a press briefing.

Other areas

But the DOH is monitoring other areas despite the encouraging figures in the country on the whole.

According to the department, Lapu-Lapu City in Central Visayas recorded a positive one-week growth rate of 10.53 percent and a positive two-week growth rate of 2.56 percent, while General Santos City in Soccsksargen recorded a one-week growth rate of 79.17 percent and two-week growth rate of 1.52 percent.

Still, both areas remained at low-risk classification with an Adar of less than 1 per 100,000.

De Guzman said the DOH is projecting active cases to be at 8,600 by Dec. 31 and at 9,338 by Jan. 31.

The department further anticipates these cases to decrease to 5,953 by the end of the year if the public adheres to minimum public health standards.

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Possible surge

OCTA, however, warned that a surge of infections was likely if the Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus entered the country.

OCTA Research fellow Dr. Guido David cited the high number of cases in South Africa where the variant was first detected—37,875 just this Sunday.

“This is a new record high for South Africa. From Nov. 8 to 14, South Africa had an average of 246 new cases. Since then, cases jumped to an average of 19,400 over a span of four weeks. The average weekly growth rate over that period was more than 200 [percent],” David said on Twitter.

“The reproduction number in South Africa increased from 0.48 to as high as 4.18, with a current value of 2.96. This is higher than the reproduction number during the Delta surge,” he added.

The reproduction number refers to the average number of persons who can be potentially infected. Less than 1 indicates that transmission is slowing down.

De Guzman said: “As of now, we have yet to detect the Omicron variant from those that tested positive either among local or returning overseas Filipinos.”

She noted that there are ways by which the country can still manage an increase in COVID-19 cases.

“We may actually reach peaks higher than when we had Alpha, Beta and Delta variants but we also know that there are things we can do for us not to reach those peaks,” she said.

‘Unprecedented’ supply

Meanwhile, vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said the country is due to receive an “unprecedented” 24 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines this week.

“This is unprecedented because normally, our average is 7 million per week, and now we will receive 24 million,” he said in a meeting with President Duterte in Malacañang on Monday.

According to Galvez, the additional doses are donations from the COVAX facility and from China, as well as doses procured by the national government and the local governments.

“This would assure us that we could expand our boosters, and at the same time, as what you have said Mr. President, we have completed our vaccines up to the middle of the year 2022,” said Galvez, who is also chief implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19.

Virus case update

He added: “This means, Mr. President, that with our procurement and other donations, the incoming President would not have a problem with the [supply of] vaccines.”

The DOH reported 235 new COVID-19 cases, the lowest single-day tally since May 23 last year, when the country recorded 180 cases.

But the latest tally did not include data from four laboratories that did not operate on Sunday and eight other labs that did not submit their data on time.

There were 10,526 active cases, of which 4,104 were mild, 1,868 were severe and 393 were critical.

Tuesday’s bulletin showed 780 have recovered, bringing total recoveries to 2,775,991. The death toll climbed to 50,351 with 10 new fatalities.

The country had a positivity rate of 0.9 percent, with 387 positive cases out of 24,120 tested on Sunday.

—WITH A REPORT FROM LEILA B. SALAVERRIA
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