MANILA — The number of daily new COVID-19 infections in the Philippines may return to pre-surge levels by late February or March, an analyst said Sunday.
"In terms of projections, we hope na baka third week [of February] o sa March, bumaba ito (number of new COVID-19 cases). Hinihintay lang kasi natin 'yong provinces," said Jomar Rabajante of the University of the Philippines (UP) Pandemic Response Team.
(In terms of projections, we hope that by the third week of February or March, the number of new cases has decreased. We're still waiting for the provinces.)
Rabajante said that currently, the bulk of new COVID-19 cases come from the provinces since the National Capital Region (NCR) is already in a "declining phase."
"Sa NCR, declining na iyan. So we see, baka tuloy-tuloy iyan, bumaba. Baka mag-less than 1,000 [cases] tayo in February," he said.
(In NCR, the cases are declining. So we see, it may continuously decline. We may even reach less than 1,000 new cases in February.)
"'Yong provinces 'yong nagiging bulk ngayon nitong 17,000 na ito," he said, referring to the number of new infections reported on Saturday.
(The bulk of the 17,000 new cases are from the provinces.)
But even as cases have started to decline in NCR, two COVID-19 indicators — the average daily attack rate (ADAR) and positivity rate — remain high, Rabajante noted as he cautioned the public against being complacent.
He noted that the ADAR in Las Piñas, Makati, Mandaluyong, Muntinlupa, Parañaque, Pasay, Pasig, Pateros, San Juan and Taguig was still above 75 percent.
"Ibig sabihin, declining phase sila but still we need to be careful kasi marami pa ring kaso na lumalabas," he said.
(This means they're at a declining phase, but we still need to be careful because there's still a lot of new cases.)
Rabajante's warning comes as he saw an increased mobility in the NCR during the previous week.
"Siguro maraming tao na 'yong lumalabas sa bahay kasi nag-peak na tayo (COVID cases) noong mid-January. So siguro from that time, maraming tao na ang gumaling," he explained.
(There's a lot of people going out of their homes because we've already peaked, in mid-January. So probably form that time, a lot of people have recovered.)
"People also know na siguro declining na ang cases sa NCR."
(People also know that cases in the NCR are probably declining.)
Rabajante said it is also possible that COVID-19 cases in Cebu and Davao del Sur have already peaked.
The team is also monitoring the situation in the Bangsamoro region due to high intensive care unit utilization.
Since late December, the Philippines has seen a quick rise in new COVID-19 cases, a wave of infections driven by the highly contagious omicron variant.