Metro Manila's COVID-19 cases have reached peak: health chief

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 24 2022 01:27 PM | Updated as of Jan 24 2022 03:00 PM

Revelers watch a fireworks display at the Bonifacio High Street in BGC, Taguig City as they welcome the new year on January 1, 2022. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News
Revelers watch a fireworks display at the Bonifacio High Street in BGC, Taguig City as they welcome the new year on January 1, 2022. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Metro Manila's latest rise in COVID-19 cases has reached its peak, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said Monday.

The Department of Health earlier said it was too soon to tell if virus infections in the capital region have begun to decline.

"Lumalabas nag-peak na at makikita natin ilang araw nang sunod-sunod bumababa ang kaso sa NCR at lumiliit ang porsyentong inaambag nito sa ating total caseload,” he told reporters.

(It seems it has reached its peak and we can see that cases in NCR is now declining and its percentage in the total caseload is getting smaller.)

NCR can go down to Alert Level 2 if it has a moderate-risk or 0 to 200 percent growth rate within 2 weeks, an average daily attack rate of 1 to 7 cases per 100,000 population, and 49 percent and below healthcare utilization rate, Duque said.

The region's COVID-19 bed occupancy is at 41.8 percent while its intensive care unit beds are 47 percent full as of Sunday, according to the DOH.

The Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19 will meet Thursday to determine Metro Manila’s alert level for the next two weeks, Duque said.

"That is not yet cast in stone, kailangan pag-usapan pa. We need to review the metrics. Ganon naman ang IATF, maya’t-maya nirereview ang ating mga metrics,” he said.

(That is not yet cast in stone, it will still be discussed. We need to review the metrics. The IATF reviews its metrics time and again.)

Duque said other regions were directed to expand their healthcare and isolation facilities in preparation for a rise in cases, which the health agency flagged last week.

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Meanwhile, OCTA Research fellow Guido David noted the growth rate of COVID-19, which measures the speed of its spread, has gone down to –50 percent from –42 percent on Saturday. 

He added that the region's reproduction rate or number of people that a coronavirus patient can infect has slid to 1.03. 

"Kung mapapanatili natin itong trend, based dito sa trend na ito, maaaring by Valentine’s… baka nasa less than 1,000 cases na lang tayo per day sa Metro Manila," David said in the same briefing. 

(If we maintain this trend, perhaps by Valentine's, we'll be down to less than 1,000 cases per day in Metro Manila.) 

He said this could be in line with the experience of South Africa, the first country to report the highly transmissible omicron variant, where infections increased for 2 weeks before dropping. 

But David said the omicron wave nationwide could last until March or April. 

"Medyo matatagalan iyong omicron wave kasi kahit na medyo bumababa na sa NCR, Cavite, Rizal, pataas pa lang sa mga ibang lugar at may mga ibang lugar na hindi pa nagkakaroon ng pagtaas," he reasoned. 

(The omicron wave will still last for a while because though cases are going down in NCR, Cavite, and Rizal, they are still increasing in other areas, while others have yet to see an uptick.)

"We’re hoping na by around March to April ay tapos na iyong omicron wave sa buong bansa natin, which means baka makikita natin iyong less than 1,000 cases per day. Pero hindi pa guaranteed," continued David, a mathematics professor at the University of the Philippines. 

(We’re hoping that by around March to April, the omicron wave in our entire country will be over, which means we will perhaps see less than 1,000 cases a day. But that is still not guaranteed.)