MANILA — A member of the independent OCTA Research group on Wednesday urged government to monitor an uptick in coronavirus infections in 2 provinces that are not part of the "NCR Plus" bubble area, where tighter quarantine restrictions were enforced to arrest an upsurge in infections.
The government had earlier expanded curbs in the National Capital Region to cover the 4 surrounding provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal until April 4 amid a surge in COVID-19 cases.
But Pampanga, north of Manila, and Batangas, south of the capital, have also been recording "an upward trend" in COVID-19 cases, said OCTA's Dr. Guido David.
"Mabilis iyong upward trend nila," he said in a televised public briefing.
(Their upward trend is going quickly.)
For example, he said Batangas tallied an increase in cases that is "more than 100 percent compared to the previous week."
Batangas has confirmed 14,217 cases as of Tuesday, including 1,021 active cases. The province only had 475 active infections on Tuesday last week, March 16, the Batangas Public Information office said on Facebook.
Meanwhile, Pampanga has recorded 9,043 confirmed cases, of which 999 are active, the province's information office posted on Facebook on Wednesday. Last March 17, the province only had 8,563 cases, including 714 active infections.
"I think this has to be monitored closely, especially since they are outside the bubble, and it could be problematic if we contain the virus inside the bubble pero may kumakalat din outside the bubble," said David, a mathematics professor.
(It could become problematic if we contain the virus inside the bubble, but there are also cases spreading outside the bubble.)
Restrictions in the NCR bubble include night curfews and a prohibition on mass gatherings. Only essential travel to and from the bubble is allowed. Some businesses were ordered to operate at a limited capacity or shut down.
The Philippines has confirmed 677,653 coronavirus infections, the second highest is Southeast Asia, next to Indonesia. The government aims to inoculate 70 million people or two-thirds of its population this year to achieve herd immunity.
Video courtesy of PTV