MANILA (UPDATED)— The Philippines might record over 6,500 new daily COVID-19 cases by the end of March, the OCTA Research group warned Friday, as it urged local governments to impose stricter measures to control the virus spread.
In a report, the team of researchers said Metro Manila alone may record up to over 4,000 new daily COVID-19 infections at the end of the month, as it also continues to log most of the new daily COVID-19 infections in the Philippines due to the increase in reproduction number (R) in the region at 1.86.
The R number indicates the rate of spread of the disease. An R value above 1 can lead to exponential growth.
"In the February 17 report, the number of new COVID-19 cases in NCR was projected to reach 2,000 on March 22. It appears that the current trend is faster, as the region tallied nearly 2,000 cases on March 11, 11 days earlier than projected," the experts explained.
The development came as the country reported 3,749 new cases on Thursday, the highest in a day since September last year. OCTA said some 1,975 of these fresh infections came from Metro Manila alone.
"It is important that the increase in new cases in the NCR be curbed in order to avoid a high number of new cases in NCR and to prevent overwhelming the hospitals of NCR and the regions surrounding NCR (Cavite, Rizal, Bulacan)," the group said.
Aside from the increase in R value, the researchers also pointed out that the average daily attack rate (ADAR) in the region is now at 11 per 100,000. This puts the region at "high risk," they said.
ADAR is the number of new cases in a city or province over a two-week period, divided by the population of the city or province.
12 NCR cities included in 15 LGUs with high daily cases
Quezon City topped the areas in the country that recorded new COVID-19 cases in the past week, averaging with 274 confirmed infections daily.
The group added that aside from QC, 11 other cities in Metro Manila were included in the top 15 areas that logged a high number of newly-reported infections between Mar. 5 to Mar. 11.
- Manila - 223
- Pasay - 193
- Makati - 132
- Paranaque - 90
- Taguig - 87
- Malabon - 68
- Pasig - 62
- Valenzuela - 59
- Caloocan - 56
- Marikina - 55
- Navotas - 55
Local chief executives in the Metro on Thursday night agreed to reintroduce a two-week curfew hours starting on Monday, March 15, in a bid to contain the virus.
Researchers however belief the curfew is not enough.
The local government should now also intervene to prevent inundating hospitals, and "put an end to this surge," they said.
"Localized lockdowns have been shown to be effective in slowing down increasing trends in new cases. Additional restrictions such as curfews, border controls, reduced capacity in certain establishments, limitations in social gatherings... as well as continued monitoring and strict implementation by the local governments will hopefully slow down the rate of infection in NCR," the report read.
The country's top health officials earlier denied that the detected presence of COVID-19 variants locally led to the recent spike of infections, and blamed the public becoming more "lax" in observing minimum health protocols.
But a survey conducted by the same group of researchers showed that a majority of Filipinos complied with wearing face masks and washing of hands when they go out of their homes, but many failed to abide by physical distancing measures.
- With a report from Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News