A man brings his children at the baywalk as volunteers led by various government agencies conduct a clean-up drive in Manila Bay last September 19, 2020. Photo by George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

The number of active COVID cases in the Philippines has climbed up to over 57,000

A significantly large portion of the new cases continue to come from NCR   
BENJAMIN CO, MD | Mar 17 2021

If this were a TV series, the first season of the pandemic could be described as one hell of a rollercoaster ride. And like many season endings, yesterday’s 5,404 new cases left us a climax that showed how formidable the villain is.

While many countries had to deal with similar, if not more tragic, outcomes in spite of better resources, they were able to step up to the challenge of conquering the pandemic against all odds. For some countries, a change in leadership was necessary to pave the way for managing the pandemic correctly, and that change led to better outcomes.

If there is one lesson that resonates from “season 1,” it’s that science plays a crucial role in how a pandemic is managed. Also, that how each nation grappled with the health crisis depended heavily on the extent to which its leaders acknowledged the gaps and failures. Without a doubt, every disaster requires a risk management system. But systems are not cast in stone. And disaster preparedness is one that should be ‘forward looking’, using lessons of the past in order to avert another disaster.

The star of 2020 was, without a doubt, science. The speed with how drugs, vaccines, diagnostic modalities and other medical devices were discovered was the silver lining that kept the candle of hope burning through the darkest days last year.

The “second season” begins on a brighter note with these discoveries. They are what will pull us through the next season of the pandemic. Let us hope this will be a short season, and that the finale brings with it a happy ending.

On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, the DOH usually reports slightly lower numbers than days prior. That’s because the data reported is actually two days late. As in other parts of the world, where we get lower numbers on weekends, the Philippines reports its lowest number of cases on Tuesdays (and a tad higher the day after). The actual numbers come in on Wednesdays to Mondays.

It is also interesting to note that only the Philippines uses the “date of onset of illness” in capturing cases. It is odd because majority of the cases do not and cannot pinpoint the date of onset of illness.

The DOH reported Tuesday that there are 4,437 new COVID cases, 11 new deaths and 166 new recoveries.

The stark revelation here is the number of active cases which has climbed to over 57,000 (and continues to climb). In addition, the positivity rate for tests remains over 10 percent (11.2 %). With the Ro in the NCR now at 2.03, unless drastic measures are implemented, we may actually surpass the high numbers we saw last July-August 2020.

With Tuesday’s case load, the NCR continues to lead with 2,231 new cases (more than 50%) in spite of the lower total cases for the day. Five other regions recorded triple digits: CALABARZON, Central Luzon, Central Visayas, CAR and Cagayan Valley. Remarkably, Central Visayas moves down to fourth spot after almost two months in second rank.

Eight LGUs in the NCR had triple digits with Quezon City owning more than 20 percent of the total cases. Manila, Makati, Pasay City, Taguig, Parañaque, Caloocan and Pasig had more than 100 cases each. Fourteen of the 17 LGUs were in the top 20 cities. All cities in the top 10 with most cases are from Mega Manila.

The province of Cebu for the first time moves down to fourth place in rank on a provincial level. The provinces of Rizal, Bulacan and Cavite now outrank Cebu.

Every country that experienced a surge had one common story. It was worse and more difficult to manage.