OCTA hopes 'omicron wave' to ebb by March or April

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 24 2022 05:20 PM | Updated as of Jan 24 2022 06:44 PM

Travelers and transport workers receive their COVID-19 vaccine as the Department of Transportation and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) launch its mobile vaccination drive at the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX). Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
Travelers and transport workers receive their COVID-19 vaccine as the Department of Transportation and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) launch its mobile vaccination drive at the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX). Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — An uptick in COVID-19 cases driven by the highly transmissible omicron variant might ebb in March or April, the OCTA Research Group said on Monday. 

OCTA fellow Guido David noted the growth rate of COVID-19, which measures the speed of its spread, has gone down in Metro Manila 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 a public briefing. 

(If we maintain this trend, perhaps by Valentine's, we'll be down to less than 1,000 new 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 omicron, where infections increased for 2 weeks before dropping. 

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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.)

In most of his interviews, David echoes the advice of health authorities for the public to continue following minimum health protocols to curb the spread of COVID.

Lawmakers have criticized OCTA Research for the accuracy of its COVID-19 projections. The group said it uses data from the DOH.

Daily coronavirus infections have hit records several times this month, prompting a tightening of mobility curbs, including a ban on unvaccinated people from public transport in Metro Manila. 

The country has recorded more than 3.4 million cases and some 53,000 deaths overall.

It has so far fully inoculated about 57.2 million of its 109-million population. 
    
— With a report from Reuters