OCTA sees Metro Manila COVID-19 cases on ‘downward trajectory’
The number of COVID-19 cases in the National Capital Region (NCR) is on a “downward trajectory,” according to independent pandemic monitor OCTA Research, even as the Department of Health (DOH) reported 31,173 new infections on Thursday, or higher than Wednesday’s 22,958.
Almost 30 percent or 8,883 of the new cases were from Metro Manila, also more than the 7,861 infections in the region the previous day.
But based on OCTA’s projection, NCR’s new cases were already going down as the reproduction number declined to 1.79 and the weekly growth rate was at minus 10 percent.
The reproduction number refers to the average number of people a person with COVID-19 can infect. A reproduction number of less than 1 indicates that virus transmission is slowing down.
According to OCTA Research fellow Guido David, the pattern of downward trajectory of new cases in the NCR was “very similar to the South Africa experience of a rapid surge followed by a dramatic decrease in infections.” The highly transmissible Omicron variant of COVID-19 was first detected in South Africa.
Although this was an encouraging development, David emphasized that NCR remained at critical risk as the Adar [average daily attack rate] and the positivity rate were still above critical levels.
On Wednesday, David said Metro Manila’s Adar was still a “severe” 111.47, way above the acceptable attack rate of below 10. Adar refers to the number of cases, or individuals infected, per 100,000 population.
Thursday’s DOH case bulletin showed that the positivity rate—or the percentage of tests conducted that came out positive for COVID-19—was at 43.3 percent, slightly lower than Wednesday’s 43.5 percent. This positivity rate was based on 73,989 people tested on Tuesday.
The World Health Organization’s benchmark positivity rate of below 5 percent, sustained for two weeks, indicates that virus transmission is under control.
“Residents are advised not to be complacent and still comply strictly with minimum public health standards so as not to prolong the surge of infections,” David said.
Dr. Ted Herbosa, medical adviser to the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19, added that it was still early to call the recent decline of cases in the NCR as the start of the downward trajectory of infections.
“It’s hard to say if there is already a downward trend even though there was indeed a rapid decline in the past two days. We’re hoping that this is the downward trend, but we cannot relax yet. We should still be cautious,” Herbosa said in a television interview.
He noted that they were looking at the one-week Adar and growth rate to assess the trend of COVID-19 cases.
National tally at 3.32M
Herbosa also warned that despite the decline in cases, it was possible that the COVID-19 infections reported last week would start to experience “problems” or “complications” and be sent to hospitals and that they were preparing for this.
The DOH case bulletin showed that the national COVID-19 caseload was now 3,324,478.
Apart from Metro Manila, Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) and Central Luzon also reported large numbers of cases.
Around 95 percent, or 29,708 of the new cases, occurred from Jan. 7 to Jan. 20.
The DOH said there were 275,364 active cases, of which 262,168 were mild.
The 26,298 recoveries brought the total number of survivors to 2,995,961.
The 110 fatalities raised the death toll to 53,153, the DOH said.
It said 67 deaths occurred this month, while the rest happened between April and December 2021 but were reported only on Thursday.
COVID-19 intensive care beds in Metro Manila were now 51-percent full (against 50 percent at the national level), isolation beds at 47 percent (51 percent nationwide), and ward beds at 58 percent (54 percent at the national level).
The DOH said 29 percent of ventilators available for Metro Manila COVID-19 patients were in use, against 24 percent for the whole country.
Five laboratories did not submit data to the COVID-19 Document Repository System, according to the DOH.
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