Active COVID-19 cases projected to soar to 430,000 by end of April if no ECQ: DOH

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 29 2021 04:31 PM | Updated as of Mar 29 2021 04:48 PM

Active COVID-19 cases projected to soar to 430,000 by end of April if no ECQ: DOH 1
Health workers fall in line for the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the Ospital ng Maynila on March 23, 2021. Despite vaccinations, the number of COVID-19 cases is rising uncontrollably in the Philippines. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — If the strictest lockdown level was not implemented in the National Capital Region and nearby provinces, Philippines would record up to 430,000 active cases by the end of April, the Department of Health said Monday. 

“Sabi nila kung hindi tayo magbibigay ng (they said that if we did not give) immediate and harder measures we will see 430,000 cases by the end of April nationally and 350,000 cases in NCR alone by the end of April,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a virtual briefing, referring to COVID-19 projections of experts under the Feasibility Analysis of Syndromic Surveillance using Spatio-Temporal Epidemiological Modeler (FASSSTER) program.

“So this ECQ aims to slow down the surge of cases, stop the spread of the variants, allow the health system to recover and of course to protect more lives,” she said, explaining that the stricter measures will provide time for the government to address the non-compliance to health protocols and the implementation of case detection, contact tracing, and isolation.

Vergeire said that places under ECQ like the National Capital Region, Bulacan, Cavite, and Rizal are now all classified under “critical risk” while Laguna is at “high risk” based on the 2-week growth rate and the average daily attack rate of COVID-19 infections.

She said the health care utilization rate for NCR is now at 63% while Calabarzon is at 58%. This means more than half of the beds and machines allocated for COVID-19 patients are occupied.

“But what would be most worrisome is our ICU utilization rates. If you look at the different areas affected or included in this NCR Plus Bubble, you would find utilization ranging 70 to 100% for their ICU beds,” she said.

Watch more News on iWantTFC

However, Vergeire pointed out that while hospitalization rates are high, 41% of admissions are actually asymptomatic and mild cases.

She said this is why barangay health workers need to be the first responders so only those in real need of hospitals are admitted and the rest are sent to temporary quarantine facilities. 

Vergeire also recognized the presence of the more transmissible variants, which she said contributes to the quick spread of the virus but she said this can be addressed if people followed minimum health protocols.

NCR and its nearby provinces are under ECQ until April 4 after the country logged more than 9,000 new cases daily for the last 3 days. Philippines has so far recorded 721,892 total cases, 105,568 of which are active cases. The government has also been rolling out COVID-19 vaccines for 4 weeks.