Metro Manila's COVID-19 surge continues; decline depends on civil society cooperation: OCTA


Posted at Mar 24 2021 12:44 PM | Updated as of Mar 24 2021 04:32 PM

Metro Manila's COVID-19 surge continues; decline depends on civil society cooperation: OCTA 1
People visit stalls in Divisoria in Manila on March 20, 2021, the same day health authorities recorded 7,999 new cases of COVID-19, the highest in the country as of that day. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The surge in COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila continues but it is projected to decrease by mid-April following government's implementation of a bubble depending on the public's cooperation, the OCTA Research Group said Wednesday.

The number of fresh virus cases in the capital region is forecast to reach 6,200 by next month should COVID-19 reproduction rate decrease to 1.5 after 2 weeks of Metro Manila's bubble with its four surrounding provinces, under an optimistic scenario, according to the independent group of researchers.

It projected a "more optimistic" daily tally 5,000 cases should virus reproduction rate slow down to 1.

The reproduction rate in the capital region is 1.99 as of Wednesday, OCTA Research said. And over the past week, its number of new COVID-19 cases averaged more than 3,600 per day, a 62 percent increase from the previous week.

"While the optimistic scenario is not impossible, it is mathematically unlikely, considering the nation’s pandemic history. Nevertheless, the changes in the trend and the decrease in reproduction number will now depend largely on the cooperation of civil society," the research group said.

"With stricter measures imposed by the national government, there is hope that the pandemic may start to slow down."

Metro Manila, home to a tenth of the country's population, has been placed under general community quarantine, along with Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal, from March 22 until April 4, with additional restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the disease.

The region's positivity rate, or the number of people who test positive for COVID-19, increased to 18 percent in the past 7 days while its daily attack rate rose to 25.9 per 100,000, putting the region in the high risk classification, OCTA said.

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The region's daily attack rate last year when it was under modified enhanced community quarantine, the second strictest in a 4-step level, was 12.8 per 100,000, it noted.

The group also said that hospital bed occupancy in the capital region was at more than 60 percent, classified as moderate risk by the health department. Intensive care unit occupancy is "very near" the "critical level" of 70 percent, OCTA said.

Metro Manila hospitals are projected to reach full capacity by Holy Week if government fails to slow down COVID-19 transmission, OCTA earlier warned.

Officials and experts have attributed the spike in COVID-19 cases to the presence of new variants, the increased mobility of people, and non-compliance with health protocols.

They have reiterated their advice to the public to properly wear masks and face shields, observe physical distancing, stay at home, and wash hands regularly, among others.

The Philippines, which began its COVID-19 vaccination drive earlier this month, logged a series of record-highs in new cases from March 20 to 22, at more than 7,000 daily. Its highest of 8,019 additional infections was logged on March 22.

It could reach 10,000 daily new cases by the end of the month, half likely to be recorded in the capital region, if the current daily trend continues, OCTA earlier said.

On Tuesday, the country also recorded is highest active cases in a day at 86,200, which accounts for 12.7 percent of the 677,653 cumulative total infections as of the same day.

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