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Without Delta lockdown, NCR hospitals may reach full capacity by mid-August: OCTA

A “lockdown” sign is placed at a street barricade in Sampaloc, Manila on April 19, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - Hospitals in Metro Manila may reach full capacity by mid-August if the national government does not tighten community quarantine restrictions in the National Capital Region, independent research group OCTA said Wednesday.

Based on projections from Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam, Metro Manila's health care utilization rate may be 100 percent full as early as August 15, said OCTA Research fellow Fr. Nicanor Austriaco.

"Once a Delta surge begins, it accelerates in an explosive fashion," he said in an online press conference.

"The Delta variant has a better key... to enter human cells. It is also more able to make more copies of itself," he said.

The group has been urging the national government to impose a "circuit-breaking" lockdown to arrest another uptick in coronavirus infections due to the highly transmissible Delta COVID-19 variant.

"The high transmission rate overwhelms the contact tracing capacity of the local government," he said.

"It is difficult to do contact tracing if people are moving constantly between cities," he said.

The government should impose a lockdown as soon as possible while Delta variant cases are not yet surging, said Dr. Guido David, another OCTA Research fellow.

"An early circuit-breaker on August 1 may need just 2 weeks or even one week to regain effective control of the pandemic," he said.

"A late circuit-breaker on August 16 will result in high case loads above 2,500 per day for the remainder of the month and will likely require a longer lockdown period," he said.

"Even if cases are not increasing significantly at this time, if we give it an opportunity to spread, it will spread," he said.

If the Philippines maintains status quo, OCTA said the country may "have an alarming 2,000 new cases daily on average in the NCR by August 10."

The number of new COVID-19 cases may reach up to 3,000 daily by August 17, the group said.

The Department of Health (DOH) earlier said that Metro Manila's healthcare capacity is expected to be at 'moderate risk' in event of a new COVID-19 surge.

As of July 24, Philippines has confirmed 119 Delta variant cases.

The DOH has also tallied 94 additional Alpha variant cases, 179 Beta variant cases, and 9 cases of the P.3 variant or the variant first detected in the Philippines. 


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