MANILA (UPDATE) - The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday said the Visayas has outpaced Luzon and Mindanao among the country's island groups in terms of increase in COVID-19 cases.
In the last 2 weeks, Western Visayas recorded a 63-percent growth, Central Visayas logged a 59-percent increase, while Eastern Visayas reported a 118-percent spike, data from the DOH showed.
"Visayas now has the steepest increase in cases among the island groups, surpassing numbers in NCR Plus areas," DOH Epidemiology Bureau Director Alethea De Guzman said in an online press conference.
Cases in the Visayas rose due to minimal observance of basic health protocols like proper wearing of face masks, frequent hand washing and physical distancing, she said.
Several people have also been holding gatherings and celebrations in the central region, she said.
"These gatherings, they become superspreader events in these areas... We are seeing some increases in work places din (also)," she said.
While the DOH is closely monitoring the rise in cases in the Visayas, health officials cannot disregard the National Capital Region and 8 other provinces where the COVID-19 situation remains "fragile," De Guzman said.
"Ibig sabihin, magkaroon lang tayo ng superspreader event, dadami na naman, magkakaroon na naman ng spike in cases," she said.
(It means we will have another spike in cases once we have another superspreader event.)
"ICU [occupancy] rates are also going up... Kahit mababa pa 'yung mga kaso natin, posible na nagsisimula nang mapuno 'yung ating ICU beds," she said, referring to intensive care units in hospitals in Metro Manila and 8 other provinces.
(Even if we have low cases now, there is still a possibility that ICU beds would reach full capacity.)
Among areas flagged for "high to critical" ICU utilization rate are La Union, Tarlac, Rizal, Cavite, Benguet and Agusan del Sur, according to DOH data.
As of June 14, Calabarzon is the top contributor of new COVID-19 cases in the country, followed by Metro Manila, Western Visayas, Central Luzon, and Davao.
The Philippines has recorded a total of 1,327,431 confirmed coronavirus infections, as of Tuesday, with active cases reaching 58,063 or 4.4 percent of the total, according to the DOH.
Video from the Department of Health