A health worker fixes her face mask at a testing center in Navotas City on August 20, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

ICU beds in NCR have surpassed critical 70 percent capacity

The DOH reports 6,666 new cases and 47 new deaths 
BENJAMIN CO, MD | Mar 24 2021

With 6,666 new cases today, 47 new deaths and 1,072 recent recoveries, we move closer to the 700,000 mark we will most likely hit by the weekend.

Active cases are now more than 91,000 (13.4 percent) and climbing with a daily positivity rate of 15.3 percent.

Notice the comparison of healthcare capacity (ICU beds, Isolation beds, ward beds and ventilators) between the entire country and the National Capital Region. ICU beds for COVID have now breached 70 percent capacity (critical level) in Mega Manila.

The NCR continues to post the highest daily haul with 3,758 new cases or 56.4 percent of the day’s total. CALABARZON is in second spot with 16.3 percent (1,085), and Central Luzon in third with 11 percent (712). These three regions together account for almost 85 percent of the total cases in the country in the midweek data drop.

The larger unknown of 47 cases on a regional level is disturbing. There are 22 new cases from ROFs.

In NCR, 13 of the 17 LGUs continue to report triple digit cases, with Quezon City accounting for 23 percent of the cases in Mega Manila. Manila follows with 570. Parañaque, Makati, Taguig and Caloocan has more than 200 cases each, while Pasig, Marikina, Pasay, Mandaluyong, Las Piñas, Navotas and Valenzuela is seeing more than 100 but less than 200 cases each.

Fourteen of 17 LGUs from NCR ranked 1st to 14th in today’s report. Muntinlupa is 14th among the 20 top cities with most cases for the day.

On a provincial level, Bulacan continues the haul with 439 new cases, followed by Cavite and Rizal. Cebu is down to fourth spot with 208 new cases. 

The OCTA Research Group provides an update on the situation in the Philippines in general, and the NCR in particular, with close to 55-60 percent of the cases coming from Mega Manila.

As of March 23, 2021, the reproduction number in NCR is 1.99 and the number of new cases averaging more than 3,600 daily in Mega Manila. This is an increase of 62 percent compared to the past week. The daily attack rate in NCR has jumped to 25.9 per 100,000 population which is much higher than the attack rate of 12.8 per 100,000 on July 28 – August 3, 2020, prior to shifting the capital from GCQ back to MECQ.


Philippine COVID-19 Update, OCTA Research, March 24, 2021

The ten top regions/provinces are provided in the graph below, with their corresponding percentage change per region. Notice that the province of Cebu is the only one seeing a significant decrease, while Benguet shows a slight uptick, and the remaining provinces in the top 10 soaring significantly.

Based on the projections for the NCR (plus GCQ Bubble), the report indicates that

…several provinces in CALABARZON and Central Luzon are also having an increase in cases, including Cavite, Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna, Batangas and Pampanga. These are the provinces included in the bubble, but we need to monitor closely the trends in Batangas and Pampanga, considering these provinces are outside the bubble but the week to week average increase in new cases is actually higher in these provinces compared to the bubble.

The figure below shows simulations based on two possible scenarios in the NCR. Using a current reproduction number of Rt=2.0, a scenario based on a decreasing trend (blue line) illustrates the effect on the number of cases IF the reproduction number decreases to Rt = 1.5 after two weeks. There will be a downward (trend) in four weeks, and the number of new cases per day will reach 6,200.

In a more optimistic scenario (green bars), the reproduction number will decrease to less than 1.0 after two weeks and the trend will reverse. The number of new cases under the more optimistic scenario could reach 5,000 per day in the NCR. While the optimistic scenario is NOT IMPOSSIBLE, it is mathematically unlikely, considering the nation’s pandemic history.

Philippine COVID-19 update, OCTA Monitoring Report, March 24, 2021