MANILA - The Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday said the National Capital Region - once the epicenter of COVID-19 in the Philippines - is now categorized as a low-risk area for the infection.
The virus' growth rate in the capital region in the past 2 weeks has dropped by 23 percent, DOH Epidemiology Bureau Director Alethea De Guzman said in an online press conference.
While Metro Manila still has 8,405 active COVID-19 cases, its average daily attack rate has dropped to 5.70 from 7.43, she said.
"Case trend in NCR is exhibiting a slow decline after a plateau," she said.
Laguna is the lone NCR plus 8 area that has yet to show a decline in cases, she said, noting that the Calabarzon province is still "exhibiting a plateau" in COVID-19 cases, she said.
The following regions are considered as high-risk areas due to the high average daily attack rate of the virus in these areas:
- Caraga (9.95)
- Western Visayas (8.83)
- Davao Region (8.16)
- Soccsksargen (7.01)
"For these areas, hindi consistent 'yung pagbaba [ng cases]," De Guzman said.
(For these areas, the downward trend of cases is not consistent.)
"We're reviewing as to the case detection strategy which may explain why may peaks and troughs 'yung kanilang case data (there are peaks and troughs in their case data)," she said.
While COVID-19 vaccines help in reducing infections, the lack of proper hand washing, physical distancing and proper wearing of face masks contribute to the spread of the virus in rural areas, De Guzman said.
The DOH noted that "as long as the rate of transmission is high, risk of new mutations and variants of concern remains high" as well.
Malacañang earlier denied that it was neglecting other provinces and prioritizing the capital region in the deployment of COVID-19 vaccine shots.
"Hindi po totoo ‘yan, na ginipit natin ang ibang parte ng Pilipinas," Palace spokesman Harry Roque said, when asked to react to acccusations of neglect.
(It is not true that we did not give attention to other areas of the Philippines.)
As of June 22, there were 52,696 active COVID-19 cases in the Philippines.