DOH notes COVID spike in other Luzon regions | Inquirer News

DOH notes COVID spike in other Luzon regions

By: - Reporter / @santostinaINQ
/ 05:32 AM January 13, 2022

The Department of Health (DOH) is already preparing for the procurement of Pfizer Inc.’s antiviral COVID-19 pill, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Friday.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III (File photo from the PCOO)

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday reported 32,246 new COVID-19 cases as it observed a surge in infections in other regions apart from Metro Manila.

“We’re starting to see spikes in neighboring regions,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said during the Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum.


Aside from the National Capital Region (NCR), Duque noted an increase in cases in Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), Central Luzon, Ilocos Region and Cagayan Valley.


Duque urged local officials to intensify the vaccination process in their respective areas and comply with minimum public health standards.

Based on the DOH case bulletin, 56 percent or 17,902 new cases were from Metro Manila, followed by Calabarzon with 6,838 cases (22 percent) and Central Luzon with 3,268 (10 percent).

Duque’s observation was shared by the independent pandemic monitor OCTA Research.

OCTA Research fellow Guido David said in a post on Twitter that Metro Manila, Central Luzon, and Calabarzon accounted for 88 percent of new cases reported last Jan. 11.

The 32,246 new cases yesterday were higher than the 28,007 cases reported on Tuesday, but lower than Monday’s 33,169, the highest daily number recorded since the pandemic began two years ago.

Acceleration phase

Duque said the lower number recorded on Tuesday was not an indication that infections were already on a downtrend.


“Premature (to say that)… this is not an indication that the peak is over,” he said.

He explained that Tuesday’s cases were low because these came from testing output on Sunday when some laboratories were closed and a lot of health-care workers were isolating or under quarantine.

“We might still be in the acceleration phase of our surge but we pray, we are doing our best to hopefully contain this the soonest possible time,” said Duque, as he cited the COVID-19 situation in South Africa.

“In South Africa, (the number of cases) accelerated fast, then decelerated fast also, that was just four weeks. I hope we follow the same trend or pattern,” he added.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire added that it was highly likely that there could be more COVID-19 cases outside of what was being reported in the daily case bulletin of the DOH.

“Currently, majority of the public use antigen tests. But these antigen tests are not included in the reported cases,” Vergeire said in a television interview.

“This is why we are saying there could be more infected (individuals) than what is being reported,” she said, adding that DOH data only included RT-PCT tests.

Vergeire also said that DOH data did not show the number of individuals who might be positive but have not undergone testing.

David shared the same observation about the unreported cases.

“It’s a significant number, including antigen tested but not reported, it could be up to 10 times the reported numbers,” he said on Twitter.

Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) country representative to the Philippines, also agreed with Duque that it was premature to say that the country has reached the peak in COVID-19 infections.

“We may still see an increasing number. We are carefully looking at how it is evolving in NCR and in the other regions. At this point in time, it is difficult, too premature to assume that we have reached the peak,” Abeyasinghe said during the Laging Handa briefing.

He added that what was important was to reduce the opportunity for virus transmission.

The positivity rate on Wednesday was 45.7 percent, about nine times the WHO’s benchmark of below 5 percent to indicate that coronavirus transmission is under control.

Meanwhile, OCTA Research said the reproduction number in NCR has decreased to 4.69 as of Jan. 8, which indicated that the trend was slowing down. This refers to the average number of persons who could potentially be infected by a sick individual. A reproduction number of less than 1 indicates that transmission is contained.

The country’s total caseload since the pandemic started is now 3,058,634.

Reduced mobility

Meanwhile, the current mobility in Metro Manila is now comparable to the movement of people under alert level 4, according to OCTA Research.

Citing Google mobility data, OCTA Research’s David said that this could be an indication that the public has responded to the threat of the more transmissible Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

“Retail and transit mobility in the NCR increased significantly during the last quarter of 2021. Since Jan. 3, 2022, [when] the NCR was placed under Alert Level 3, Google Mobility data showed that the current mobility data in the NCR is comparable to mobility under Alert Level 4 (from Oct. 1 to 15, 2021),” Guido said in a post on Twitter.

The WHO also does not see the need yet to escalate the existing alert level 3 in Metro Manila.

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“[Our] projection is that the Philippines may be able to avert that even if current trends continue until the end of the month. The red line analysis we have done projects that we can manage the health-care system until Jan. 27 to 28,” he added.


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